Special to Valley Community Newspapers
The Sacramento area is known for many time-honored holiday traditions. Jesuit High School’s annual “Christmas Tree Lane” marks 55 years this November.
Jesuit High School will celebrate this memorable Sacramento event on Nov. 26 and Nov. 27 at the newly-renovated Hyatt Regency Hotel in Sacramento.
This popular fashion and shopping event has an interesting history.
A dream comes true
In 1955, the vision of establishing a Jesuit high school in Sacramento inspired a group of a dozen women to band together to found the Loyola Guild. With unshakeable commitment and a flair for fashion, they worked to make their dream a reality.
A St. Ignatius Loyola Parish schoolroom housed the first meetings of the guild’s founding members. They had no money, but they were offered an existing event known as “Christmas Tree Lane” by the Mercy Guild. The members decided to model their event after the “Christmas Tree Festival” which was previously held at the Senator Hotel.
The Loyola Guild members formed a committee to make gifts by hand that they could sell at Christmas Tree Lane. Local businesses, organizations and individuals donated to their cause. Virginia Larson, one of the women responsible for the initial fundraiser, was president of the Loyola Guild in 1957 when the idea to build the school came about.
“The whole town donated trees to the Christmas Tree Lane,’ Larson said.
Funds from these early Christmas Tree Lanes helped to establish Jesuit High School. On Sept. 17, 1963, Jesuit High School opened its doors to 93 freshman students.
Today, Christmas Tree Lane lives on.
In addition to fantastic holiday shopping, the event includes a beautifully-choreographed fashion show and dance production that features Jesuit High School seniors and parents, along with senior girls from St. Francis High School. Christmas Tree Lane’s show is the largest fashion show in the Sacramento area.
All funds raised continue to go to the school’s building fund and the Loyola Guilds Scholarship Fund. Some 22 percent of Jesuit students receive tuition assistance thanks in part to Christmas Tree Lane.
‘A Timeless Tradition’
This year’s Christmas Tree Lane theme is, appropriately, “A Timeless Tradition.” It promises to be as spectacular and lavish as any other in the event’s history.
The gala dinner show will be presented on Saturday, Nov. 26 at 7:30 p.m. Breakfast and lunch shows will be held Sunday, Nov. 27 at 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., respectively.
Local celebrity and Jesuit alumni Kelly Brothers has hosted this event many times over the years.
“To me, Christmas Tree Lane is always the best way to kick off the Christmas season,” Brothers said. “It’s the first event to indicate that Christmas is coming. When I first started hosting this event, it was just me and 500 women in the room.”
Members of the Loyola Guild note that these days there is a mixed crowd, as men enjoy the event as well.
Raffle items this year include a tropical getaway package for a one-week stay in a Poipu Beach, Kauai, oceanfront condo (airfare is included), San Francisco Giants tickets (donated by an owner of the team) and magnificent specialty dinners at local restaurants and wineries.
“The Lane” will be open for Christmas shopping on Saturday, Nov. 26 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and on Sunday, Nov. 27 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Shopping in “The Lane” is open to the public. Stroll down this magical lane to find one-of-a-kind Christmas decorations, incredible gourmet foods and delightful treasures.