LifestyleHolidaySeason of Hope


30 years later: Giant tree puts Delray Beach on path to prosperity

'It was a big project, but we wanted to celebrate big,' Marjorie Ferrer says
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Posted at 3:34 PM, Nov 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-28 16:25:07-05

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — "Storage was an issue and how do we put it together," asked Marjorie Ferrer, former executive director of the Delray Beach Downtown Development Authority. "Nobody knew."

With a little bit of luck and some holiday magic mixed in, Ferrer's thought of an over-the-top Christmas decoration became reality.

"It was right there in your face," Ferrer said. "You could see it from I-95."

In 1993, Ferrer recalled that Delray Beach's downtown area was struggling.

"The city was pretty much boarded up," she said. "I mean, there were like three restaurants."

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Marjorie Ferrer shares the inception of the Delray Beach Christmas tree and its growth over the years.

She and other city leaders were looking for unique and exciting opportunities to unite the community.

"It was a big project," she said, "but we wanted to celebrate big."

The Christmas display rose 50 feet into the sky at its initial debut in 1993. Over the years, its popularity and its size have grown.

"I said, 'Do we want to do 100 feet for 100 years,' and the crowd went crazy," Ferrer recalled about her time on stage at the tree lighting ceremony in 1994. "The mayor leaned over and said, 'Let's talk.'"

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Marjorie Ferrer (left) when she was the executive director of the Delray Beach Downtown Development Authority.

The display's height was double just two years in taking on its 100-foot form the same year Delray Beach celebrated its centennial.

"I remember on I-95, looking over my left shoulder like right about Linton, and there was the star at the top of the tree," Ferrer said. "Oh, it was amazing."

Now, three decades later, the giant tree looks a lot like it did on day one. However, the downtown area in Delray Beach is almost unrecognizable. Business is booming around Old School Square and the 100-foot tree helped put the city on its path to prosperity.

"It's a true collaborative effort," Ferrer said. "It was just a project of love."