Cowtown’s annual Christmas tree lighting tradition

The celebration still takes place in downtown Fort Worth nearly 76 years later.

FTW-Burnett Park Christmas Tree-DEC

A photo from the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in 1952.

FW Star-Telegram Collection/ UTA Special Collections

The countdown to Christmas has officially begun and trees across the city are shining merry and bright. Downtown’s tree lighting ceremony has marked the beginning of Cowtown’s holiday season for more than 75 years — here’s a look at how the tradition has evolved.

Burnett Park used to be the gathering place for what was known as the Community Christmas Tree. The tradition started in 1947 by Star-Telegram owner Amon Carter Sr. Every December, Amon would send a local reporter to New Mexico to pick out a tree for the annual Star-Telegram Christmas Tree and Music Festival.

FTW-Christmas Tree tradition-DEC

A photo of an overnight stop for the Star-Telegram’s Christmas tree expedition from New Mexico.

FW Star-Telegram Collection/ UTA Special Collections

The ceremony featured Santa, live music, and kid-friendly entertainment — including a ride on the Leonard Brothers department store Toyland Monorail.

In 1956, the tradition was adopted by the Fort Worth Jaycees and the festivities were later moved to Sundance Square in 2004, where the ceremony takes place today.

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Amon Carter speaking at the Community Christmas Tree ceremony in 1951.

FW Star-Telegram Collection/ UTA Special Collections

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