Bob Batz Jr., Pittsburgh Post-Gazette staff writer, described it beautifully back in 1998 when he wrote these words:
“You think putting up your Christmas tree is hard? Try erecting an old artificial tree that rises more than 100 feet in the air and consists of branch sections so big and heavy that they have to be bolted together and hoisted by crane. Then there’s the task of stringing 87 ornaments bigger than your head, plus 2,500 lights and all the attendant connectors and wires and 30 plugs.”
“Try putting it all together from scaffolds and bucket trucks on one of Downtown’s busiest corners, buffeted by buses and cars and pedestrians as well as the wind and the rain and the cold,” Mr. Batz continued.
An earlier, simpler version of this tree consisted of lights. First erected in 1953 on the exterior of the Joseph Horne’s Department Store, it was dedicated to the young patients at Children’s Hospital.
In the mid-1960s, the tree evolved to a version with branches and ornaments.
John McDonough, an electrician with Sargent Electric Co., oversaw the tree’s installation for more than 15 years.
Horne’s departed Downtown in 1995 but the tree remains a harbinger of holiday shopping and part of Light Up Night festivities.