With the notable exception of Santa’s workshop in the North Pole (you DO believe, right?), you’re not likely to find a more Christmassy place on the planet than Branson, Missouri. That’s a bold claim, but one that can be supported with a quick study of the number of Christmas trees and lights found in this festive Ozark Mountain town, which boasts a population of just under 12,000. With about 1,700 beautifully decorated trees peppered throughout the town, that amounts to a staggering 7:1 human-to-tree ratio for this community that truly lives up to its nickname, “America’s Christmas Tree City.” And a new, very special tree joined the ranks on Nov. 4. 

Branson’s Christmas Tree

“United We Stand” is the name of a 39-foot-high, 25-foot-wide tree that was designed to serve as a symbol of peace, hope, joy and love. In a year that’s been marked by a health crisis, economic struggles, social issues, natural disasters and other tremendous challenges, Branson’s Christmas Coalition (yes, such a thing DOES exist outside of a Hallmark movie) was determined to unite the community and the entire country this holiday season. This spectacular tree is the very epitome of that cooperative spirit; giant ornaments were sent in by all 50 states. Each ornament measures nearly two feet, and many were crafted to look like the unique shape of their state. Several feature notable wildlife, from Alaska’s moose to South Dakota’s bison to Georgia’s sea turtles, while others are adorned with their state’s very recognizable flag (props to you, Maryland!). The tree also features 2,592 LED white lights; the words “PEACE,” “HOPE,” “JOY” and “LOVE” surround its base; and a 6-foot-tall, 3-D “snowburst” light tops the mammoth artificial evergreen. 

The tree stands adjacent to the Branson Wheel, a giant Ferris wheel that was relocated from Chicago’s Navy Pier in 2016. The wheel itself is electrified year-round, but for Christmas there are 16,000 LED fixtures holding more than 144,000 individual lights that all “dance” to favorite Christmas tunes. The light show takes place every hour on the hour once night falls. 

There’s another new addition to the Wheel complex this holiday season, in the form of a 7,200-square-foot ice rink (that’s just a smidge larger than the rink at New York’s Rockefeller Center) that will operate from mid-November through New Year’s Day. Come join in the quintessential winter holiday fun! 

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