Next year, the annual holiday decoration of the sequoia in downtown Seattle will be organized by someone other than Eric Greenberg.
After 25 years, the volunteer behind the Seattle Community Holiday Tree is ready to hang up his tinsel.
Eric Greenberg, 63, said his family plans to move to Skagit County, and the distance won’t allow him to coordinate the decoration of the tree, which remains in a planted area near the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Stewart Street.
“I’ll be around 80 miles away, so it’s just not as convenient for me,” he said.
Greenberg said the idea to decorate the tree for the holidays first came to him while enjoying drinks at a downtown bar. That was in 1991, and Greenberg was a 38-year-old account manager with a local printing company living “paycheck to paycheck.”
After arriving in Seattle, the New York native developed a liking for Oliver’s Lounge at the nearby Mayflower Park Hotel, which among other offerings provided a pristine view of the then-60-foot-tall sequoia.
“I looked up one day and realized that the tree wasn’t being decorated for the holidays, and there was something that just struck me as wrong about that,” he said.
Greenberg has organized the tree’s annual holiday decoration every year since.
“I never expected to be doing it, or doing it for this long,” he said. “I just wanted people to enjoy the holidays.”
The decoration has become a staple of the holiday season, and even the tree itself has found some fame. In March, a man climbed to the top of the tree and spent several hours resisting police efforts to coax him to climb down before he finally did so.
Another volunteer will take the reins of the decorating next year, Greenberg said. The Seattle University Facilities Services Department and donors from the Christ Our Hope Church will provide logistical and financial assistance, he said.
While Greenberg is leaving the tradition in the hands of other, the move could free up his family to start a new one.
For more than two decades, the sequoia in downtown Seattle was the Greenberg family’s holiday tree, he said.
“I guess now we might finally get one for our house.”