Amid “Fences” Controversy, Washington Square Christmas Tree Arrives Nov. 27 in New Location

Probably not location…

Ai Weiwei’s “Fences” now in traditional spot of Christmas Tree under Arch | Tree lighting December 6th

Despite community requests for relocation of Ai Weiwei’s 4 month-long “Fences” exhibit from under the Arch, instead the Washington Square Park Christmas tree has been relocated. The WSP tree lighting ceremony turns 93 this year, older than Rockefeller Center’s! The 45-foot tree will appear in its new (for this year) location upon its arrival Monday, November 27th from Vermont. The tree lighting ceremony will take place Wednesday, December 6th and Christmas Eve yuletide caroling, as usual, on Sunday, December 24th.

The Washington Square Park Christmas tree tradition is indeed 93 years old. A little known fact: the Washington Square tree lighting ceremony is older than the Rockefeller Center tradition – by seven years!

The tree will be placed south of the Arch – it will be inside the park vs. under the Arch – between the Arch and the fountain, in view of the Arch, and “hopefully visible from Fifth Avenue,” according to Peggy Friedman, who handles media relations for the Washington Square Association which has hosted the tree ceremony since its beginnings (she is also director of the Washington Square Music Festival). The tree celebrates all holidays, be it “Pagan Winter Solstice rite, Chanukah, Kwanzaa or Christmas.”

The main issue with the location of “Good Neighbors Make Good Fences” (remains ironic) is that the Arch is a famous landmark and destination unto itself. And that community input into the project was completely subverted (see links below). Do we want to open the floodgates to more and more art under this Stanford White-designed monument ? Do we want Washington Square Park to become uber-commercialized and programmed like, say, Madison Square Park? Sigh.

The Washington Square Park holiday tree remains a special and long-standing tradition at the park brightening up the Village and the City itself.

Celebrate your favorite winter holiday — be it a Pagan Winter Solstice rite, Chanukah, Kwanzaa or Christmas — December in Washington Square when The Washington Square Association offers two chances to sing yuletide carols in downtown’s historic park. The Association provides the annual 45-foot Christmas tree just south of the Arch that will be lit for the season between the hours of 4 pm and 1 am. The Vermont tree is scheduled to arrive in Washington Square on Monday, November 27 early in the morning.

On Wednesday, December 6 at 6 pm, the Rob Susman Brass Quartet and children and grown-ups alike will sing holiday songs. The sparkling lights on the resplendent tree will be turned on to mark the beginning of festive winter evenings. Santa Claus himself has promised to appear, candy canes in hand, and lead the children in the illumination countdown. The Washington Square Association provides songbooks.

Christmas Eve, Sunday, December 24 at 5 pm is the traditional time to celebrate the holiday with carols near the Washington Square Arch. The Rob Susman Brass Quartet, song leader, and the revelers from all over the city will lustily sing out the familiar tunes. The words are in the songbooks distributed by the Washington Square Association, but many will know them by heart;   “Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men” resounding with special meaning this season.




WSP tree in its usual location (2011)

The Washington Square Association has been in existence since 1906.

Ai Weiwei’s “Fences” opened October 12th and will remain under the Arch until February 11th, 2018.

Previously at Washington Square Park Blog:

Community Opposition to Ai Weiwei’s Planned “Fences” Installation Under Washington Square Arch August 27, 2017

Community Board Meeting on Ai Weiwei’s Proposed “Fences” Installation Under Washington Sq Arch Sept. 6 Details August 30, 2017

Community Board to Vote on Ai Weiwei Washington Square “Good Fences” Resolution Tues. Sept. 19 September 18, 2017

Ai Weiwei “Fences” Opened to Public Briefly Saturday Under Washington Sq Arch | “Public Preview” Today, Opens Officially 10/12 October 11, 2017

Photos: Cathryn
(Renderings #1 and #3: via Public Art Fund at Community board Meeting September)

6 thoughts on “Amid “Fences” Controversy, Washington Square Christmas Tree Arrives Nov. 27 in New Location

  1. As I have expressed previously just so angered, apprehensive and sorrowful about this installation. To all of those particularly the families who were planning to enjoy their traditional celebration under the Arch I am sorry. We did our best but corporate overpowered us.
    Next year our Christmas Party will be better than ever!!
    Merry Christmas from Patti “A”

  2. I’m dismayed as the tree under the arch has been a welcome sight for me.
    Community involvement is so
    Important and once again
    Corporate overpowers!!

  3. Thank you for the update. I walked by the Arch today and was wondering where the Christmas tree would be. I feel sad the tree was evicted from its traditional spot, and by a world famous artist’s hugely expensive “public art” piece. The CB’s decision to allow it is unprecedented and a travesty.

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