It’s Hard to Social Distance When You’re a Giant Singing Christmas Tree


Big church productions cancel, go digital, or try to adjust to COVID-19 precautions.

There are no sheep or goats or even llamas at the Capital Christian Center, a 3,000-seat Assemblies of God megachurch in Sacramento this Christmas season. Not even a pair of church members dressed up in a camel suit.

And for the first time in 63 years, no giant Singing Christmas Tree.

“Tonight would have been our opening night,” said Capital Center senior pastor Rick Cole on Friday. “It’s a really weird feeling.”

Large-scale Christian shows, including those featuring a Singing Christmas Tree—40- or 50-foot-tall structures holding hundreds of choir members—have been staples at large congregations like Capital Christian for decades. They draw in thousands of visitors who might never otherwise come to church and bring joy and a sense of community to cast and congregation members alike.

But this year, COVID-19 restrictions make such events nearly impossible to pull off.

Last year, 25,000 people came to see 11 Capital Center Singing Christmas Tree performances. Between 300 and 400 people are usually part of the production, which includes choir members, actors and a host of backstage staff and musicians who play in a specially built orchestra pit in front of the stage.

“We are disappointed,” said Cole. “It’s disappointing for every person on the planet right now. It is the nature of the moment we are in.”

First Baptist Church in Orlando is getting around the lack of in-person performances featuring two Singing Christmas Trees—each about 45 feet high from base to star and able to hold about 200 singers and tens of thousands of Christmas lights—by filming a series of short Christmas-themed videos to be shown at services during December, said Jonathan Hickey, …

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