Nov 3, 2023 | By: Zy'Riah Simmons

Paul Bunyan’s Christmas Tree Goes Up in Bemidji Ahead of Annual Night We Light

Every year at the beginning of November, the countdown begins for the annual Night We Light event in downtown Bemidji.

Crews have been setting up lights on Bemidji’s streets, residences, and commercial spaces for 27 years for a special lighting ceremony that takes place the night after Thanksgiving. The First City of Lights Foundation was hard at work on Thursday to get everything ready.

“Today is day two of really transforming Bemidji into Christmas City,” said Josh Peterson, executive director for the First City of Lights Foundation. “So we started yesterday with doing the street lights along the highway but today is really the craziest and busiest day.”

Paul Bunyan’s Christmas Tree will again be the star attraction in Paul Bunyan Park and is now outfitted with pixel lights, effectively creating a cone-shaped electronic screen to display a variety of new animations and effects.

“Our tree will be 58-and-a-half feet tall, and so pixel trees are extremely rare above 30 feet tall,” said Peterson.

“I think people will be very surprised at just how cool this generation of Christmas tree really is,” said Brian Bissonette, marketing supervisor with Paul Bunyan Communications, which is sponsoring the upgraded tree. “And so with that technology, obviously our cooperative is first and foremost a broadband provider and we provide the latest in technology, so I think it’s only apropos that Paul Bunyan’s Christmas Tree takes that next step and also is the latest in technology and it’s, I think, one of a kind, the only kind of its sort anywhere in the Midwest.”

The tree signifies the beginning of the setup process, and the twinkling lights will add to the half-million lights that will soon cover downtown Bemidji. The foundation has been putting together this year’s setup since last year’s show to make it bigger and better than ever.

“We’ve actually started the day after lighting up everything last year. We’re adding, like, seven new, larger-than-life displays as part of this year’s celebration,” Peterson said.

This year’s Night We Light event will be held on Friday, Nov. 24, with the parade starting at 6 p.m. and the lighting ceremony starting at 7. More information can be found on the First City of Lights website.

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