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A Campbell Tree Lighting for Dad

A story about giving back to your community by preserving tradition.

For 22 years, the city of Campbell gathered together to light the redwood trees and officially welcome the start of the holiday season.

The lighting ceremony started off at the corner of Campbell Avenue and Winchester Boulevard, in front of the and the 55-foot Redwood planted nearly 100 years ago.

About eight to 10 years ago, the celebration was moved closer to the downtown, in front of Campbell City Hall and the , with the Redwood on the .

Last year, for the first time since the city began this tradition, the trees were dark and the community mourned.

"I drove by the tree and it was dark and that saddened my heart," says Commercial Tree Care owner Todd Huffman.

Huffman grew up on the Campbell/San Jose border on Latimer Avenue. He played soccer at and fished at Dell Park. His father, Jim Huffman still owns a home there.

"My dad called me asked why the lights weren't lit," Huffman says. "You know how fathers are. They are very proud of their family. He's very proud of me and my business and thinks I own this valley. He told me I had to make sure the tree was lit. ‘I don’t care, you fix this.’"

So Huffman made a phone call to the city of Campbell in 2010.

"I called the city. I was a little upset about it. 'What, do you have Scrooge working there? I’m confused,' I told them," he says. "I was ready to put lights up that day."

The cost to light those two Redwoods ranged between $4,000 and $6,000 every year, says Campbell Parks Supervisor Vince Huppe.

"Last year was the first year we did not have the trees lit due to budgetary constraints," Huppe says. "The city hated to do it and it was one of the last things to go. We received calls from residents upset over the decision and the owner of Commercial Tree Care, Mr. Huffman was one of them."

What Huffman did next left a lasting impression on Huppe.

"He said, next year, he would donate the crew and equipment to bring back the lights," Huppe says. "It’s a Campbell tradition. He knew how much it meant to the community. We supply the lights, some donuts for the crew, drinks and finger foods. They did the rest."

Huffman's crew came out yesterday, Nov. 22 and today to set up the light display that warmed the heart of Campbell for 21 years.

The community center tree lights went up first, along with a star topping the whole thing off. Today, Nov. 23, the lights went up on the Redwood at Orchard City Green.

"He was moved. I was moved. It was just great," Huppe says. "You want to get those phone calls. Someone that wants to give back to the community and preserve a Campbell tradition, especially in these tough economic times."

But Huffman sees the whole thing a little differently.

“I think the city of Campbell has the best parks in the Bay Area by far,” he says. “I’m not doing anything that’s above normal. I think lighting the tree is the least amount I can give back.

“This might be a life long endeavor and that’s ok,” Huffman continues. “It’s what a tree guy does. Hanging lights is fun. My guys get a break, I get the enjoyment of seeing the tree lit up and my dad is happy with me. And that’s all that matters.”

The two Redwoods will be lit on Friday, Nov. 25 at 5:00 p.m. and will stay on until 10:00 p.m. The lights will stay on and lit, seven days a week until Jan. 2 when Huffman and his crew will take them down.

Sheila Sanchez (Editor) November 23, 2011 at 11:11 PM
What a cool story, Mayra and your photo is awesome!
Jim Huffman November 24, 2011 at 02:50 AM
Thank you Todd!!! Pops
Bethany Curran November 24, 2011 at 06:06 AM
So glad to hear the tradition lives on! And what a great story of how it came to be. We will be there for the tree lighting for sure :)
JJosselyn November 24, 2011 at 05:37 PM
Thank you!!!! This is one of my most favorite Campbell traditions and I was so sad last year when the trees weren't lit. Can't wait to be there for the lighting this year.
Skyking November 24, 2011 at 09:06 PM
You always had a knack for being over the top while being humble. The fact is we have been fortunate to have you, and now everybody knows it.
Heather Durham December 03, 2011 at 06:37 PM
A BIG Thank You to Todd Huffman! The world needs more people like you to step up and give back! My you be blessed this Holiday season and beyond!

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