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Why did we get a new Christmas tree?

When the city gathers for the annual Christmas tree lighting on Friday night, townspeople will have a new tree to swoon over.


Frustrated by years of problems trying to light the two tall spruce trees that flank the Historic Courthouse, a downtown promotion committee decided to buy a big tree that came already decorated.
“O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,” goes the carol, “how sturdy God hath made thee.” As it happens, the tree man hath made is easier to deal with.
“We had trouble from time to time keeping the lights lit (on the courthouse trees), or the wind would blow the lights around and those kind of things,” City Manager John Connet said. “We’d end up with one tree on and one tree off. And we had to bring in a tree company to help us string the lights. So the Downtown Committee decided to purchase an artificial tree that would be more reliable.”

The wear and tear on the spruce trees was another factor, said Lew Holloway, the city’s downtown economic development coordinator.
“We had mounting issues with the lights overheating, getting water in connections, blowing fuses, etc., and we there was concern about the potential for damaging the trees as a result of these failures,” he said in an email. Windstorms and snow storms didn’t help either, making the lights sag or look ragged as the season wore on.

The city bought the 30-foot tree for $17,062 from Raleigh-based MOSCA design at a 33% post-holiday discount in February. The Henderson County Tourism Development Authority chipped in $9,500. The city’s traffic department used a bucket truck to erect the tree and top it with the 5-foot star, which the city bought last year for $500. The tree lights in multi-colors will go on Friday night at dusk as part of the Old Fashioned Christmas downtown, which also features a visit from Santa and carriage rides.

Like lots of homeowners who celebrate Christmas in a big way, the city had to figure out how to store a large and unwieldy decoration that’s forgotten 11 months out of the year.
“It comes apart,” Connet said. “It’s in pieces and we’ll store it at our warehouse behind Fire Station 2.”