Much like the citizens of Whoville found in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Solvang residents will rally around the Christmas tree tonight, albeit with one difference – the tree is on fire.

Each year following the holiday season, Solvang and the Santa Barbara County Fire Dept. host an Annual Christmas Tree Burn event in an effort to provide an easy and convenient Christmas tree disposal bonfire, while also sparking public knowledge concerning fire safety. The Annual Christmas Tree Burn will take place in the field of the Old Mission Santa Ines at 6:30 this evening.

Solvang residents will leave their trees curbside and wait for the Health Sanitation Services to deposit them into the controlled burn. The event typically attracts about 500 participants and features safety presentations as well as, naturally, a large fire to burn the trees.

SB County Fire Dept. spokesman Capt. Eli Iskow said one of the most important aspects of the event – other than the bonfire itself – is its message, which promotes public safety in order to lessen the likelihood of chimney and house fires caused by the burning of Christmas trees in fireplaces.

“Trees are very flammable and burning them in fireplaces or leaving them some place where they could potentially burn is hazardous,” Iskow said. “This is why the fire department and Health Sanitation Services offer the service as a convenience.”

Santa Barbara County Fire Dept. Captain Gordon O’ Neill described the event as a fun and safe community event.

“This event consists of not only the disposal of the Christmas trees, but also a fire safety lesson that provides a valued way for families to get together and see and make friends in a fun and educational atmosphere,” O’Neill said.