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Lighting the Barrel Tree among highlights of Christmas in Lynchburg

Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 11:00 am

With its star rising nine rows off the ground atop some 140 barrels, the Jack Daniel’s Barrel Tree is almost complete. Workers were busy this week finishing up the strands of garland and testing lights in preparation for the official lighting ceremony. Jack Daniel’s master distiller Jeff Arnett urges the community to join ‘round the tree when the lights are turned on at 6 p.m. Saturday. (Photo by Robert Holman, Editor)

Featured in television commercials and print ads, the Jack Daniel’s Barrel Tree was an enormous success last Christmas. Now the massive Christmas tree, constructed of 140 Jack Daniel’s barrels, is back for its second holiday season.

The official lighting of the tree, which is located on Majors Blvd. between the Jack Daniel’s visitor’s center and the entrance to the distillery, is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday. The ceremony will put the wraps on a festive day in Lynchburg.

Christmas in Lynchburg is an all-day event Saturday, and after a day of holiday entertainment, Jack Daniel’s master distiller Jeff Arnett wants people to stick around for what should be a terrific finale.

“We’re certainly hoping that people in the community will come out and bring their families and make this part of their Christmas kick off tradition,” said Arnett. “Last year was very successful and I hope they come back. I saw a lot of people from Lynchburg there, and I know people who have made plans from out of state, which is great for our community.”

Though it takes some time for such events to become full-fledged tradition, Arnett hopes this one takes hold and continues to grow for years to come. He’s hoping the crowd continues to grow as well.

“With our brand being about tradition, I hope that it becomes one for us here,” said Arnett. “I’m hoping that when I return (after retirement) we are on the 20th or 25th for us. I believe in getting the community together during the holidays.”

While custom is in its second year here in Lynchburg, Jack Daniel’s has expanded the holiday theme to include its European market. This year, there will also be a barrel tree in London, the distillery’s largest export market.

The tree will be located in the Covent Garden area of London, which is rich in history and is now a popular shopping and tourist site. Arnett said the distillery has sent people to London to help with the tree.

As for the 140-barrel tree in Lynchburg, Arnett said it has been professionally assembled to withstand winds up to 75 MPH.

“We presented this concept to an engineering firm and they presented us with a design,” said Arnett. “They designed the central trunk and platform. The worse thing we would have to do is replace some lighting or garland. Of course we don’t want people climbing it. We don’t want people hurting themselves.”

Arnett added that the concept is simply to bring people together during the holiday season.

“I don’t even know who gets credit for it, but I think it’s a great idea,” he said. “And last year’s slogan was great also. It’s not what’s under your tree, but who’s around it. I think we kind of need to remind ourselves that in a world of material goods, those aren’t always the things that are important.”


By ROBERT HOLMAN, Editor; Robert Holman can be reached at <>