This year will mark the 100th year that the Christmas tree has stood in the Plaza on the corner of West Main Street and Santa Cruz Avenue in Los Gatos. As is customary, the tree will be lit on the first Friday of December, and this year the ceremony will be 5-7pm on Dec. 1.
This year, the ceremony will include recognition for those who donated the tree all those years ago: the History Club of Los Gatos. History Club President Diana Crawford and many club members will be in attendance.
The History Club was established in 1897, and in the years leading up to 1923, it annually decorated a tree that had been cut and brought down from the mountains. Each year, the tree was placed in the Plaza (then called Lyndon Plaza in keeping with the Hotel Lyndon which was demolished in 1963), and the club dedicated an annual budget of $15 to this project.
As documented in the board meeting minutes of Jan. 3, 1923, the ladies of the History Club discussed the planting of a permanent tree, and Estelle Harwood McMurtry moved that a Christmas tree should be planted. She was duly named Chair of the Tree Committee.
In a later board meeting on March 14, 1923, the minutes note that a cedar Deodara had been successfully planted, and a plaque noting its donation by the History Club of Los Gatos still stands at its foot. At the time of planting, the club promised that the tree would grow in size with the population of Los Gatos, which in 1920 stood at 2,317.
At that time, Los Gatos was known as a bohemian arts colony, attracting painters, musicians, writers and actors. The tree has indeed grown alongside the evolving Los Gatos population, which according to the 2020 census, has swelled to more than 33,000 residents.
With this influx of new people has come an array of cultures and beliefs, and in more recent times, the tree and its annual lighting has been considered a symbol of the start of the holiday season as opposed to a traditional Christmas tree.
In the years since 1923, the History Club has continued to grow, attracting women from Los Gatos and beyond, who wish to serve and support the community through philanthropic work. In recent years the club has supported, both through voluntary work and via financial donations, causes including Cancer CAREpoint, Good Karma Bikes, The Bill Wilson Center, SJSU Spartan Food Pantry and Pacific Clinics.
On Jan. 25, the History Club will be throwing open its doors for an Open House event from 7-9pm. Interested parties and potential new members are welcome to attend.
For information, visit historyclublosgatos.org.