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Future of community Christmas tree unknown

Updated January 19, 2024 - 1:16 pm

For more than three decades, Boulder City residents have gathered at Frank T. Crowe Park for the annual lighting of the community Christmas tree.

But that may soon change.

“The current tree has been the focal point of holiday celebrations for many years,” City Manager Taylour Tedder said last week. “During these times, the tree has been decorated with lights and structures to support these lights. After years of decorations, the Christmas tree has sustained damage to the top of the main trunk, compromising its overall health and longevity.

“It’s showing its age and deterioration, and the overall canopy is thin, further compromising its condition. Annual pruning and other maintenance techniques have helped extend the life of the tree; however, due to it being at the end of its life, the city needs to evaluate alternative options.”

He said those options include:

■ Removing the tree and replacing it with another at Frank Crowe Park.

■ Maintain the tree, but plant a new tree at a different location for future holiday celebrations.

The Christmas tree is identified as Pinus Eldarica or a Mondell Pine, Tedder said. It is a rapidly-growing evergreen reaching heights up to 40 feet, forming a dense canopy with a conical shape. These characteristics make it an ideal choice for holiday tree decorations.

“Once staff completes its evaluation, we will present options for the City Council’s consideration,” Tedder said. “We understand the nostalgia residents feel for the Mondell Pine, so as part of the evaluation process, staff is looking at ways to repurpose the tree.”

Some of the suggestions on how to continue to honor the tree are:

Ornaments: A resident could create small ornaments from tree trunk slices. These could be distributed to community members during holiday events.

Woodworking projects: Local artisans or woodworking enthusiasts turn sections of the tree into unique handmade items like coasters, keychains, or small sculptures.

Community art installation: Use branches or sections of the tree to create a community art installation commemorating the history of the Mondell Pine. This could be displayed in a central location for everyone to enjoy.

For now, Tedder said the city has no time frame as to when the tree may come down.

“It is certainly going to be a difficult decision, which we can do community outreach on to gain resident feedback,” he added.

Chamber CEO Jill Rowland-Lagan said that based on the city’s eventual plans, the chamber, which hosts the annual tree lighting, will have to be flexible.

“We always want to honor those who played such an instrumental role in our history,” she said. “I suppose the live tree is no different.”

She added that regardless of the decision, she knows, “the spirit of the season will be the focus, and we will all find wonderful ways to celebrate.”

In an article last month, longtime resident Gail Motley discussed playing a big part in bringing a tree to town in 1986, along with the assistance of Eva McGarvey.

“At that time, we had a very tiny (chamber) Christmas committee,” she said, noting that the Christmas budget was very low. “We talked about having a bake sale but we knew that wasn’t going to raise much money. I think it was me who said, ‘OK, you go and talk to the people you know and I’ll talk to the people I know and ask for a tax-deductible contribution. We decided to meet again a week later to see what we came up with.”

Much to their surprise, Boulder City opened its hearts and wallets to the tune of $10,300, with no donations of more than $100. The chamber also put a jug out at the Boulder Dam Credit Union, which garnered another $200.

At that time, they solicited donations for the Christmas fund but it wasn’t until they had money in hand that they decided how to spend it. This included a tree.

“It was Eva who said that we needed to buy something to give to the people of Boulder City,” Motley said. “We decided to buy a Christmas tree and dedicate it to the City of Boulder City.”

Ron Eland is editor of the Boulder City Review. He can be reached at reland@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523.

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