COLOMBO: Due to shortage of time, Sri Lanka’s ambitious project to erect a 325 ft-tall Christmas tree had to be downsized to a 220 ft-tree, but still qualifies as the world’s tallest Christmas tree to date.
Currently, the record for the world’s tallest artificial Christmas tree is held by a Chinese firm that put up a 55-metre-high (180 t) tree-like tower of lights and synthetic foliage, ornaments and lamps in Guangzhou city last year.
“We had to wrap it up by going up to 220 feet as we were racing against time. There was no point unveiling the Christmas Tree after Christmas. We are satisfied that we were able to break the world record,” Galle face Green Project Coordinator Mangala Gunasekara told newsin.asia.
“Workers involved in the project were highly disappointed for not being able to go up to 325 feet. However the present 220 ft-tree is good enough to find a place in the Guinness Book of World Records,” he added.
“On Friday night, almost all the workers were in tears. There were almost 1000 workers involved in constructing the Christmas Tree, and they all were working on a voluntary basis. No one was paid for this. They did it to spread the message of peace and harmony. They did it for the country,” Gunasekara added.
A majority of the workers involved were employees of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority who constructed the tree after working hours. There were Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims among the workers.
Sri Lanka’s Ports Minister Arjuna Ranatunga initiated the plans to build the tallest Christmas tree but ran into opposition from the Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith who said the project was a ‘waste of money’ and the funds could instead be used to help the poor. It has approximately cost US$ 80,600 to the exchequer.
As a result of the opposition, organisers were forced to suspend the project for 10 days which caused the tree to not be built to 325 feet.
The project resumed only after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe explained to the Archbishop that the money used is not the government’s, but from the public as voluntary donation.
Around 600,000 lights have been used to decorate the tree which has been constructed using more than a million natural pine cones, iron, old wood material, chicken wire mesh and vinyl flowers.
A 20-foot Santa and 40-foot sleigh made out of Styrofoam is mounted halfway up the tree, topped by a 6-metre-high shining star.
The tree will be up until January 6. It has already attracted thousands of people.