In its 34th Year, the Festival of Trees & Lights has Become a Holiday Tradition with Dramatic Impact
According to Iowa historians, the first Christmas tree was set up in Des Moines by the Neumann family, nine-generations ago at a location near what would eventually become the city center. The Neumanns were a family of German immigrants who arrived on the frontier in covered wagons and made a life on the prairie, working in the family’s bakery business. As winter came, the days drew shorter and the darkness and cold seemed to discourage customers from visiting the bakery. Christmas trees were still relatively unknown in the rest of the world and had only recently begun popping up in the Christmas markets in Germany. There was a rumor circulating that Queen Victoria’s German husband, Prince Albert, had set up a tree in Windsor Castle, but whatever the source, the Neumanns were inspired to bring this new holiday celebration to Iowa.