Prior to the ceremony Max Shreck called for a meeting with the Mayor about about building of a new power plant. The Mayor and his acolytes scoffed at this prospect before Shreck's son, Chip arrived to escort them down to the ceremony. Down below in Gotham Plaza, Alfred was doing some Christmas shopping.
Lighting of the Tree Ceremony
The Mayor's approach to the ceremony from the department store was being covered by the local media, including the Gotham Globe. The Shreck family entourage was a bigger flashbulb draw, taking advantage of the photo opportunity Max posed with a Salvation Army Santa, making a generous donation. As the Mayor approached the stage, Max threatened that he had enough signatures from Shreck Corp employees alone to get a recall for not doing his job. Jenkins pointed out that Max didn't have a legitimate issue and he certainly didn't have a suitable candidate lined up. The Ice Princess, a Christmas themed beauty queen, initiated the ceremony at the podium. The Mayor spoke a few words of introduction for Gotham's leading citizen, Max Shreck who sponsored the ceremony. After hurling a few gift boxes into the cheering crowd, Max noticed he forgot his speech and told Chip to remind to take it out on his secretary later. He improvised a short but rousing spiel concerning good cheer, wishing he could hand out world peace, wrapped in big bow. The Ice Princess then unveiled her outfit and switched the tree's lights on. As the crowd roared a giant red Christmas gift box with a green bow approached the plaza. Even the Mayor begrudgingly acknowledged it was a "great idea" in Max's ear, but admitted "not mine."
Circus gang attack
Suddenly the bow popped off confetti and launched clowns into the tree, bursting some of the lights and ornaments. Various circus freaks ripped through the giant package, including motorcyclists and torch jugglers on stilts, all wearing ghoulish skull masks. They were lead by Organ Grinder, who carried a hand crank organ box with a hidden gatling gun which he used to decimate the tree, laughing manically. The two GCPD patrolmen up on stage disappeared, either shot or retreated for backup. The Organ Grinder approached the stage with Fat Clown and a Sword Swallower and demanded "the big guy, who runs the show" be handed over. When the Mayor stepped forward he was knocked unconscious and tossed aside. They knew the corrupt mogul had more influence than anyone. Chip stepped forward bravely declaring they'd have to go through him first. The gang was unthreatened by this, mockingly brandishing their weapons in his face. Chip urged his father to flee which he did with a moments hesitation. The intersection had clowns stationed at certain points firing submachine guns into the air, Max was nearly struck by a circus dirt biker and gunfire while running to the alleyways. The Penguin had been watching Max from a sewer grate, and quickly moved below the area Max had fled to.
A Circus Strongman picked up a child's newly purchased sled and began beating shoppers outside the department store with it wildly. The Stongman also attacked the Salvation Army Santa. Commission Gordon arrived on this moment, when spotted by the Strongman he threw the sled into the windshield of his cruiser. Rather than enter a firefight with pistols against dozens of perps with submachine guns in the plaza, Gordon ducked and ordered the Batsignal be turned on.
The Batmobile arrives
The Batmobile arrived at Gotham Plaza shortly thereafter. Batman began using the car's anti-riot gadgetry, starting with a pair blade-like extensions from either side to knock a pair of torch jugglers off their stilts. After retracting the extensions, he launched Batdiscs at two motorcyclists, knocking them off their bikes.
Max's secretary, Selina Kyle, had exited the department store by this time to bring his missing speech. She was taken hostage by a clown with a stun gun. Upon spotting this, Batman stopped the car and emerged from the vehicle, where he was immediately accosted by one of the fallen bikers. The caped crusader caught his arm, kicked his abdomen and knocked him away with a backhand strike within seconds, barely breaking his stride. The clown threatened to stun the woman if Batman came any closer. Batman pulled the Grapple Gun from his belt and fired a line into the concrete wall behind the clown. The man laughed perceiving it to have been bad aim, but the Batman yanked the line, pulling a piece the wall into the back of his head. Selina stood in awe while Batman glanced downward at the fallen clown, awkwardly reacting a moment later she delivered a swift kick to her unconscious attacker. The circus gang had fully dispersed from the plaza by this time. Batman stood examining the scene for a few more moments, giving a hard glare at Selina's attempts to converse before moving on. Selina began talking to herself, bemoaning yet another man uninterested in her as she collected her dropped papers. She looked back at the stun gun in the hand of her attacker, picking it up to examine it and pilfer the weapon for herself.
Commissioner Gordon attempted to thank Batman and communicate with him but the Dark Knight barely acknowledged him. At the same time Max was catching his breathe in an alley, standing on a sewer vent which turned out to be a secret door used by the circus gang. Shreck fell into the void, knocked unconscious possibly by the Penguin himself.
The ruination of the tree and the sanctity of the ritual led to an eventual Relighting of the Tree Ceremony.
Behind the Scenes
Originally the Ice Princess was going to be shown shoving an elderly woman out of her way when feeling from the gang. Additionally the sled Tattooed Strongman weaponized was going to be a Batman branded sled from a Batman gift shop.
Among other things, Burton was forced to remove a sweeping master shot of a gang member setting citizens on fire to get a PG-13 rating. While some of the jugglers setting people ablaze remain, this was most likely the Firebreather who is not shown attacking any innocents in the final cut. Warner Brothers has not released any deleted footage from this sequence other than Selina's "electroshock therapy" line.