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New ornament honors 'Light a Life' tree and Civic Center

New "Light a Life" ornament
Posted at 6:40 PM, Oct 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-14 20:40:48-04

HELENA — It’s been nine months since the Civic Center’s “Light a Life” tree was downed by a wind storm.

The tree was used as a symbol of fundraising for St. Peter’s Health Hospice. Each light on the tree would represent a donation made for someone in care at St. Peter’s.

Cathy Burwell, CEO of the Helena Area Chamber of Commerce, wanted to help create a piece of art that would commemorate the Light of Life tree alongside the civic center’s centennial.

“It certainly is an iconic building here in Helena, and there was so many people that the Light a Life tree meant so much to them. It definitely was meaningful and it still is a meaningful project. I know the hospital foundation is trying to do something to kind of replace that project,” said Burwell

The chamber eventually commissioned Alan Snell to design a commemorative holiday ornament to honor the tree and the 100-year-old Civic Center. Alan is best known for his bronze sculptures, fine art and framing business at Bear’s Den Custom Framing.

“Really we just try to do a really nice piece that everybody would enjoy and can be happy to put on their tree,” Snell said. “So out of all of the suggestions we decided the Light of Life tree is so important to a lot of people in the Helena community that would be a good subject matter. Along with the Civic Center is celebrating their hundredth year being around too, so it's kind of hitting two birds with one stone. But we wanted to feature the light of life tree as the main part of it.”

After losing nearly half of its yearly income due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the chamber is hoping to recoup some of its losses through this project.

The American-made ornaments can be purchased online at or at the various brick and mortar shops listed on their website.

Positively Montana