Nation's tallest fresh-cut Christmas tree arrives at Outlets at Anthem


by Catherine Holland

Video report by Javier Soto

Posted on October 25, 2012 at 8:40 AM

Updated Thursday, Oct 25 at 11:51 AM

Map: Outlets at Anthem

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ANTHEM, Ariz. -- The tallest fresh-cut Christmas tree in the country arrived at the Outlets at Anthem Thursday morning, and it was escorted by the big man himself -- Santa Claus.

Measuring in at a colossal 112 feet, the tree is slightly bigger than the wingspan of a Boeing 727 and several feet taller than the largest tree to grace Rockefeller Center in New York City.

The giant white fir wrapped up a weeklong 750-journey from the Northern California-Oregon border Thursday morning, pulling into the Outlets at Anthem on a 75-foot stretch trailer. At least 12 saplings will be planted in the tree's home.

A 14-person team will spend the next couple of weeks -- eights hours a day -- decorating the massive tree with about three miles of LED lights, about 6,000 ornaments and bows, and a three-foot copper star for the top. All decked out, the tree will weigh a whopping 16 tons.

A gigantic crane hoisted the tree, which was strapped to a hook larger than a man's' torso, into place in the center court.

"We love to be able to offer something fabulous to our guests in the Phoenix area and around the world," said Outlets at Anthem spokeswoman Sallyann Martinez.

The Outlets at Anthem will officially kick off the holiday season with a tree-lighting extravaganza on Nov. 17. The event starts at 6 p.m. and features a live performance by 2012 "American Idol" winner Phillip Phillips.

"Our holiday festivities have long-been a favorite throughout Arizona, drawing visitors from around the state and attention from across the nation," Martinez said in a news release. "We are proud to grow this to the next level and bring visitors additional elements, along with a few surprises still to be announced, this year."

This will be the third consecutive year that Anthem has been home to the tallest fresh-cut Christmas tree in the country.

Three years ago, Outlet at Anthem's 80-foot Christmas tree -- the tallest in Arizona -- was a casualty of a wicked winter storm that swept through the state less than three weeks before Christmas. Intense winds with gusts clocked up to 70 mph, unusual for early December, snapped off a 15-foot portion of the tree's top, leaving it nearly flat on top.

Unable to repair the damage, the Outlets at Anthem team saved the holiday spirit by topping the tree with a humongous Santa hat.

Outlets at Anthem is located off Interstate17, 15 minutes north of Loop 101, at the Anthem Way off ramp, exit 229.