HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – It has been a Christmas tradition in Brandon for the last 34 years but this year, the lighting of the Christmas tree at Center Place won’t be happening.
On the first Wednesday of December each year for the past three decades, Center Place has, with the help of a business partner, floated a 16-foot Christmas tree on Clayton Lake outside of its Vonderburg Drive location. In the past, the festivity has been accompanied by local performers, refreshments and a visit from the big man himself – Santa Claus.
Center Place says a series of unfortunate events have now caused them to pull the plug on what would have been the 35th year of the celebration.
“Unfortunately, we lost our business partner and the tree was damaged upon removal last year from the lake and we lost our business partnership there,” said Lisa Rodriguez, Marketing Director with the Center Place Fine Arts & Civic Association.
Center Place did not want to disclose who their previous partner was but explains ownership of that company recently changed hands.
“We have enjoyed working with them all these past years and wish we still could. We really will miss them, they were wonderful for us,” explained Carole Stanton with Center Place.
In the meantime, Stanton and Rodriguez tell 8 On Your Side they made several attempts to keep the tree lighting afloat but just couldn’t make their December deadline.
“We already started to notify some of our performers and, unfortunately, we can’t get a tree here fast enough. It would have to be ordered and last Monday was the absolute last deadline for that,” said Stanton.
The 43-year-old non-profit is now trying to secure sponsors for next year in hopes to bring the event back.
“It is never too soon to start planning. We are hoping someone will step-up to the plate. Maybe even two businesses come together and work on it as a project,” said Rodriguez.
For more information on how you can bring the Lighting of the Christmas Tree at Center Place back to life, please call 813-685-8888 or visit Center Place Brandon online.
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