|My sister, brother, cousins, and I pose in front of the aluminum tree with the color wheel on the left.|
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
The Aluminum Christmas Tree
Aluminum Christmas trees became popular in the 1960s. Between 1959 and 1969, the bulk of aluminum Christmas trees were produced in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, by the Aluminum Specialty Company; in that time, the company produced more than one million aluminum trees. They retailed for $25.
Each tree took about 15 minutes to assemble. A central pole had holes drilled at angles so the branches formed a tree shape. The branches had woven aluminum pine needles.
Due to fire safety concerns, lights were not strung through the tree's branches for fear of a short circuit. If the tree was lit up, it commonly had a floor-based rotating color wheel. The color wheel featured red, blue, yellow, and green segments on a clear plastic wheel; when the wheel rotated, a light shone through the changing colors.
Aluminum Christmas trees were popular during the dawning of the space age. Their popularity began to wane after the first airing of the TV special, A Charlie Brown Christmas in 1965. Lucy wanted Charlie Brown to get a big aluminum tree, maybe painted in pink, but Charlie Brown lamented the commercialization of Christmas. He chose a small, scrawny natural tree instead, and was lambasted by the Peanuts characters.
My grandparents had an aluminum tree with the rotating color wheel. I’m sure it was discarded years ago. Do you have an aluminum tree?