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45 year history of Portland Singing Christmas Tree

October 8, 2009

by Merritt Irene Tegeler

Guess what time of year it is? It is time for Portland’s Singing Christmas Tree!  In 1963 Director Dave Peters and the choir of the First Assembly of God church presented the first Singing Christmas Tree at the Benson High School Auditorium. That first choir consisting of approximately 70 singers appeared in white capes above the bows of evergreens that decorated that first tree.  Little did they realize what they had started!

As the Tree grew, it found various places to perform, until in 1967 it opened at the Civic Auditorium, now known as the Keller Auditorium. In 1984, our present Director, Jim Boehner, formed a new organization, One Voice Productions to continue the tradition and legacy of Portland’s Singing Christmas Tree. 

A few years later the choir was opened up to the public and the message of hope, joy, peace, and love has continued ever since. At present there are over 130 different churches represented in the choir which is comprised of approximately 300 voices. We are joined each year with a youth choir of 35-40 children ranging from 5th to 8th grades, as well as regionally recognized guest artists.

Every year we not only present the Christmas story from the Bible, but Greg Tamblyn, our stage director, weaves a fantastic new story line into our musical production.  Our songs range from traditional carols, to new Christmas songs that we present to our audience each year. Our performances begin the day after Thanksgiving and usually include the next weekend as well. We range from 10 to 12 performances each year.

I have felt the need to put on paper the history of this wonderful organization, so that the stories that have made it grow across the years won’t get lost. I have told many people that I am only compiling the stories. It is the people of the Tree who have written the history with their voices, and lives as they contribute to its success year after year. If you haven’t heard us yet, make this the year you start your holiday season with us. A seat will be waiting for you! Come join us as we celebrate Christmas and Celebrate Tradition with Portland’s Singing Christmas Tree. 

Irene can be found in one of the wheelchairs in the front, singing soprano. She is so glad to be a part of the Tree.

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Discuss this article

Harrison October 8, 2009

I would like to see a performance, but would prefer to see it MUCH closer to Christmas. I dislike how we have moved Christmas from December to November.

Dona October 8, 2009

I have sung in the tree as well as gone to performances, it is a wonderful way to start the season.

John October 8, 2009

I went to this for the first time last year. I want to make sure that I go this year.

Kay October 8, 2009

What an inspiration. Great way to bring in the season. May your be richly blessed by your participation Irene.

Lee October 8, 2009

Very interesting to hear the history behind these events that have become a normal part of our routine. Brings them back to special as they deserve.

anon October 8, 2009

It is still too early to be talkign about Christmas!

Holloween is yet three weeks away!

Bah hum-bug

Eamon November 13, 2010

“A few years later the choir was opened up to the public and the message of …”

I’m confused. Does this mean the public can sing? My Mother loves to sing and is from out of town. Can she join this group? Is there a choral group doing Christmas songs out there that she could join? Thank you

Marilyn Winn November 29, 2010

This years program was absolutely fantastic. It was much better than last year’s. We have been coming I think for 4 years. Really enjoyed the upbeat of the music and and way it was presented. Thank you all for your hard and unselfless work and devotion.

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