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It seems that the crowd at the annual Chester Community Tree lighting grows every year. This year there were estimated to be over 150 folks that came out to honor America’s veterans and watch the lighting of the big blue spruce in front of the library kick-off a season of peace and good will. By their applause, everyone there demonstrated their support for veterans as well as their enjoyment of the performances of several singing groups. Photo by Gregg Scott

Chester Community Tree lighting draws a crowd

For the seventh consecutive year the Lake Almanor Area Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with several community groups, hosted a tribute to veterans with the lighting of the Chester Community Tree.

This event is always celebrated on the Saturday of Veterans Day weekend with the intent of honoring veterans, both past and those currently on active duty, as well as bring the community together to celebrate a season of “peace on earth and good will toward men.”

It has been pointed out before that this is not a Christmas tree, hence the all white lights. In fact it has been referred to as a Peace Tree and a Veterans’ Tree in past years.

It is in fact a Community Tree. The idea is that it can be or symbolize whatever an individual or group would like to remember as the community approaches the holiday season.

“Veterans, peace, thankfulness, good will, family and community are all subjects everyone should be remembering every day of the year,” said one attendee after the introductions of the veterans attending.

It was estimated that well over 150 folks came out to the Chester Library parking lot this year to honor veterans, mingle and watch the ever-growing blue spruce light up, and listen to the speakers and music.

The evening started with the Boy Scout Troop 36 Color Guard leading the Pledge of Allegiance followed by chamber president and event emcee Susan Bryner introducing the veterans in attendance.

As the overhead lighting provided by Chester Fire Department units went dark, the all white lights on the Community Tree were turned on to the applause and enjoyment of the crowd.

There was also special music by local singer Christi Chase, members of the Chester Community Chorus and an ensemble from the Lake Almanor Community Church, which also provided the public address system.

The keynote speaker for the evening was local resident and Plumas County’s new Veterans Service Officer Shawn Bondon.

He talked about the importance of supporting active duty troops, remembering all that have served and described many of the benefits that are available through the Veterans Administration.

He also welcomed all who would like to help serve the veteran community in upcoming county events.

Every year that the Community Tree lighting has taken place it has been a true community effort that has made it possible.

Weeks before Nov. 9, some of the folks involved this year alone included the Chester Fire Department volunteers that used their ladder truck to reset the big star back to the top of the tree.

Womack Construction put in a trench for the electrical to go underground (no more extension cords) and Shane Branch connected the permanent hook-up.

Clint’s Tree Service helped reset the lights and check the burned out bulbs and Travis Broussard of All Phase Landscape had one of his crews cut back the shrubbery and clean up all the debris around the tree.

Then there are of course all the people helping during the celebration, which included students Katelyn and Sean Nielsen from Chester High School who passed out cookies and hot chocolate with all donations going to the Chester High senior class.

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