City holiday tree lighting to take place today

San Francisco residents and visitors can enjoy the lighting of the city’s official holiday tree Thursday afternoon in front of McLaren Lodge, officials with the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department said.

The free ceremony starts at 4 p.m. at 501 Stanyan St. and includes toboggan rides, a snowy play area, carnival rides, live entertainment, cookie decorating and visits with Santa Claus. A holiday light show in the Conservatory of Flowers will also be free to visitors.

Parks officials said the holiday tree lighting began 89 years ago when parks superintendent John McLaren lit trees along a mile of Fell Street, ending with “Uncle John’s Tree” at McLaren Lodge.

The 130-year-old Monterey Cyprus tree will be decorated with more than 550 multi-colored lights and a decorated train.

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