The History of Bruce the Spruce

Bruce the Spruce is a mainstay at The Lights of Christmas, making people laugh since the very beginning of the event. For the past few years, he and his classic jokes could be heard as the host of our radio station, and you could see him dancing around in a bright projection mapping display. He will continue to spread Christmas cheer in those ways for the 25th Anniversary this year!

While we celebrate the milestone of 25 years in operation, it’s fun to share a little history about this festive event. Bruce the Spruce is almost as much of an icon as Santa in these parts, so we thought we’d share about the tree himself!

The founders of The Lights of Christmas gained a lot of inspiration for the event from a similar festival in Nashville called Christmas in the Park. Christmas in the Park also had a talking Christmas tree, but it was stuffed and huge! When the team came back to Washington, they wanted to make something similar, but built out of natural materials and more personable.

The first iteration of Bruce the Spruce debuted in 1997 on the inaugural day of The Lights of Christmas! He was originally framed with plywood and chicken wire with real tree branches attached.

Later on, it was decided Bruce needed to be a real tree, but there aren’t a whole lot of spruces around Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center! So, every year the team would go to a local tree farm to pick out just the right tree to be Bruce for that year.

“The biggest challenge over the years,” says Laurie Fertello, the Outdoor Artistic Designer for The Lights of Christmas, “was his lips! At first, they were plywood, but we decided they needed to be poofier. They went through a lot of different designs and the year we thought we got it right we lost them! But thankfully we had a photo to recreate them!”

Laurie says Bruce the Spruce has really been the highlight of the event for many families.

“We were all really surprised at the level of adoration Bruce got,” said Laurie, “A lot of that was really due to Mike Hall.”

Mike Hall was the first voice of Bruce the Spruce and is responsible for the immediate love and fond memories people have of Bruce according to Laurie. He was the man behind the tree behind the jokes that made the event so memorable for people.

These days, Bruce the Spruce is still a memorable part of The Lights of Christmas. You can hear his jokes on the event’s radio station and see him waving as you drive-thru. Who knows, some of the jokes in his repertoire are still probably from that first year back in 1997!

See Bruce the Spruce this year at The Lights of Christmas select nights November 25-December 31. Order your tickets at  

-Carl Kulper, Communications Specialist
Warm Beach Camp Ministries

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