There is much you can say about this year’s official City Holiday Festival tree, to be lit tonight in front of Old City Hall. It’s very tall (49 feet), very Teutonic (Austrian Pine), will be very bright (over 8,000 lights, according to a press release from the City Manager’s office) and is very green (Pantone 356, by all accounts). But there is a reason the local media has dubbed this tree “The Survivor.”
It was first harvested 24 years ago and used as a Christmas tree in the living room of Harry and Beatrice Darren, who live out in the Kings Point section. After the holiday, they decided to plant in their rather sizeable yard and were surprised when it seemed to thrive. Years passed and their “permanent” Christmas tree was there every year, decorated and standing firm in the yard.
Then, there was the garage fire in 1989. A few worries and some branches singed, but the tree kept growing. In 1995, there was a bad parasite scare and things looked dire for the tree, but the Darrens nursed it back to health and the tree held on. Then, there was the incident with a drunk driver in an SUV in early 2004. But after renting some heavy equipment to right it, the tree was fine, except for some damage to the trunk. This year, when officials from the city asked for the tree for this year’s holiday celebrations (cutting off the first four feet where the Escalade had hit, of course) and the Darrens were honored and glad that they had cared for it for so long.
Tonight and through the rest of the holidays, this tree, which has been through so much, will attract thousands to the courtyard of Old City Hall and serve as a shining symbol of the season- of peace, tradition and joy.
Then, after it is taken down on January 3, it will be ground into mulch for the Parks and Rec Department.
– R. White