Every year the Peoria Riverfront Museum receives a donated evergreen which becomes our celebrated community tree and the centerpiece of our Christmas in the Village event. This annual celebration is held in support of the museum’s Every Student Initiative, an inspirational education program designed for all central Illinois school students.
This year’s tree, the “William Jones Tree,” a 50-foot Norway spruce, was donated by Edwards, Illinois resident Alicia Davis and dedicated to the memory of her late father William Jones, a U.S. Army veteran. Working with event chair and museum board member Alison Unkovich, Alicia decided on Veterans Day weekend that there would be no finer way to honor her father, 82nd Airborne Division veteran, than to supply the tree for the enjoyment of everyone. William Jones’ children and grandchildren came together for the first time in many years to light the tree and remember their father and grandfather at the museum’s community tree-lighting ceremony.
Our community tree is a sustainably selected tree, already slated to be removed, because of encroachment, failing health or dangerous conditions. The museum provides each tree a place of honor at the heart of our community, as the centerpiece of the Christmas in Village and in support of the Every Student Initiative, decking it with 30,000 lights, crowning it with a 6-foot star and turning it into an inspiring gathering place and friendly beacon for central Illinoisians and visitors from around the world.
The 2022 community tree, the “Green View Tree,” was donated by Green View Companies.
Many dedicated volunteers come together to transport, install and light the tree including Green View, R. Gingerich Crane, Centre State International Trucks and the Peoria County Sheriff's services. The tree sits in a 7,000-lb. stand fabricated and donated by Philippi-Hagenbuch and designed with the help of the Farnsworth Group. Christmas in the Village is chaired and coordinated by board member and educator Alison Unkovich and is presented by Doug and Diane Oberhelman and Cullinan Properties with major sponsorship by Alison and Matt Unkovich, Green View, and the Visionary Society.