Every year since 2012, Brianne Dornbush has spent the first week of December preparing for the Columbia Heights Tree Lighting. She has worked to get a tree donated or at a reduced price, called on volunteers to help put it up and stabilize it, and gathered friends and neighbors for a tree lighting – usually with hot chocolate, caroling, and an appearance from Santa! When she joined District Bridges in 2015, she brought the Tree Lighting with her and now the event is a staple in the Columbia Heights holiday season.

However, in 2022 something happened that she had never seen before. She woke up one morning and the Columbia Heights Tree had gone viral. You probably know this special tree by his celebrity name – Tiny Timber.

Also lovingly nicknamed “the Short King of Christmas,” Tiny Timber went from undiscovered to full-blown celebrity status overnight when Washingtonian Problems posted about his short stature on Instagram. Tiny Timber came to be after a variety of circumstances – the tree farm that used to donate the tree went out of business during the pandemic, we can’t order the tree before October 1 because of how our grants are structured, in 2022 there were no trees available above 12 ft from local vendors, and then when we did order a 10-12ft tree, what showed up was closer to 7-8ft. These things happen! What was unexpected was the response to our perfectly petite tree. In addition to WashingtonianProbs, Tiny Timber got featured on DCist, Fox5, Washingtonian, and received shoutouts from journalists

This year, we are incredibly grateful to several sponsors and partners, including ANC1A and Amazon, who have ensured that the Columbia Heights Tree Lighting can continue for years to come, but Tiny Timber is still in our hearts! In many ways, the story of Tiny Timber is also the story of District Bridges: we’re a small nonprofit, and the work that we’re trying to do across the District is massive. For almost a decade, District Bridges has prioritized community-built, community-driven programming that supports local businesses and invests in communities. Help us continue to do this vital work by donating or buying your own Tiny Timber Merch!

As part of our End of Year Campaign, you can also receive exclusive Tiny Timber benefits! Check them out below:

  • $25 donation: 15% off Merch
  • $50 donation: 15% off Merch & Tiny Timber Sticker
  • $100 donation: 15% off Merch, Tiny Timber Sticker and Water Bottle
  • $500 donation: FULL TINY TIMBER PACKAGE! (t-shirt, sticker, water bottle, plus exclusive Tiny Timber Photo Opportunity)

*All physical items will be mailed after the campaign ends in January 2024.