PALM SPRINGS —The much-anticipated tree lighting ceremony at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is set for 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 1 at the Tram’s Mountain Station kicking-off with a holiday performance by the Palm Springs High School Madrigals & String Quartet along with a special appearance by Santa Claus.

Hank Plante, a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist, will serve as the 2019 celebrity tree lighter. He will  light the Tram’s landmark 45-foot tree comprised of over 4,000 LED lights, which can seen throughout the Coachella Valley.

Plante is the recipient of six Emmys and has covered California for three decades on TV stations in San Francisco and Los Angeles. He is the winner of the George Foster Peabody Award and was named “Reporter of the Year” by the Associated Press. He is now a resident of Palm Springs and serves on the Desert Sun Editorial Board, as well as providing commentary for NBC Palm Springs.

As one of the first openly-gay TV reporters in the United States, Plante has been honored by numerous LGBT rights organizations. In addition, he was featured in the documentary “5B” which was selected for the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and chronicles the first AIDS ward opened in the nation, which he covered as a reporter.

“For me the holidays are a time when we rise above our differences (which can be glaring if you work in the news business like I do), and we’re lifted up to who we really are: brothers and sisters getting through life together,” Plante said in a news release. “Driving around the Valley, looking up at the holiday lights coming from the top of the Tram, I’m instantly reminded of that all through the Season. “

The tree lighting ceremony is a longstanding tradition that helps usher in the holiday season.


About Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the world’s largest rotating tram car. Opened in 1963, the Tram’s 80-passenger cars travel along the breathtaking cliffs of Chino Canyon from the Valley Station (elevation 2,643 ft.) to the Mountain Station (elevation 8,516 ft.) in approximately 10 minutes. For more information, please call 888.515.TRAM or 760.325.1391, or visit us at Also, download the free mobile tour now available in the App Store/Google Play.

Image Sources

  • Tree Lighting at Tramway: Palm Springs Aerial Tramway