CROWN POINT — Hundreds of gazers gathered for the 19th annual Christmas Tree Bonfire Celebration at the Lake County Fairgrounds . A  bonfire lit up the sky as about 100 Christmas trees were lit with the help of Crown Point Fire Rescue.

“We’ve been doing the tree burning for many years now, and it’s always a great family friendly event. The fire warms the entire area here, so even if we have subzero temperatures, it’s always comfortable around the fire," Larry Geisen said.

Geisen, owner of Geisen Funeral Homes, has been carrying on this community tradition almost 20 years.

“Events like this help bring people together and promote community fellowship. Geisen Funeral Homes is celebrating 150 years in business this year, so we understand the importance of those traditions," Geisen said.

Firemen with the Crown Point Fire Rescue managed the massive blaze, as they have since the first tree burning years ago. The crowd also enjoyed complimentary hot chocolate and popcorn courtesy of Geisen Funeral Homes. As a newer tradition with the event, music was played on a sound system and featured songs with a fire or burning theme. From “Light my Fire” by the Doors to “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash, the music created a fun atmosphere to watch the flames grow higher.

“I come for the hot chocolate”, said Owen Lahm, 9, of Lowell. “This is the biggest fire I’ve ever seen and even standing far away it’s still nice and toasty."

Firefighters received help with the initial lighting of the fire from Jake Stanley, a longtime veteran of the event. “The Stanley family has been at the tree burning almost every year we’ve had it, so it was only fitting that Jake had the honor of lighting the initial flame," Geisen said.

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