FORT WORTH â€” You don’t just plop a 58-foot blue spruce into a Christmas tree stand. Workers shaved it down to size with chain saws when the tree arrived at Sundance Square Plaza in downtown Fort Worth early Monday morning.
Then Mayor Betsy Price took the controls of a small crane to help lower the tree into its base. It will now be decorated with 6,000 low-energy LED lights for Saturday’s lighting ceremony.
Merchants expect the plaza’s second holiday season to draw more people than last year.
“I’m actually thinking this will be a record year for us,” said Lindsey Ross, who owns and runs Shakolad, a high end chocolate shop right across from Sundance.
Construction of the plaza hurt business, but it’s bringing in customers now.
“As soon as it opened, sales went up about 20 percent in our business here,” Ross said Monday.
Around the corner at M.L. Leddy’s western wear, they’re waiting to see what new business Santa brings them this year. Sales clerk Ginny Mac said the arrival of the giant blue spruce is a welcome sign of holiday shoppers.
“Great for us,” she laughed. “We get a lot of foot traffic.”
Or boot traffic.
A new Cheesecake Factory is about to open where the Barnes and Noble bookstore used to be across from Bass Hall. And the new dining option is also expected to bring a lot more people to Sundance Square Plaza.
Just across the Trinity River, we find another sign of the season: It’s the second year for an ice rink at the Coyote Drive-In on Panther Island. Operators say last year was great.
“We had lots and lots of repeat customers,” said John Eriksen. “We had 16,000 [skaters] last year.”
Eriksen expanded the rink by 30 feet to handle more skaters this year. Crews were layering on the ice Monday; it opens on Friday.
Santa arrives in Fort Worth Saturday for the tree-lighting ceremony at Sundance Square Plaza. Festivities start at 4 p.m., including live music, face-painting and stilt walkers.