A gift from Lititz to Lancaster

By on November 15, 2017

Local spruce will adorn Penn Square for the holidays

Blue spruce trees have branches much stiffer than fir trees. The tree-moving arborist had to be careful
not to break them in transit.

How do you load a 37-foot blue spruce tree onto a flatbed trailer without bending a branch?

That’s what Lititz resident Randy Garner was wondering on Monday. He found out.

On Monday morning, the City of Lancaster came to pick up Garner’s massive tree from his home at 275 Coventry Lane. The tree is destined to become the Lancaster City Christmas tree in Penn Square this holiday season.

It will be put up and decorated later this week, to become the centerpiece of the downtown Lancaster festivities and tree lighting on Black Friday, Nov. 24.

It was a spellbinding production to watch as Lancaster City arborist Jim Bower and his team hoisted the 2,200-pound tree on a crane provided by PPL. Then Bower himself crawled under the tree and deftly cut the massive trunk. By then, it was hanging above the ground. Slowly, the crane allowed the tree to be gently placed on the ground.

“We’ve done this many times,” said Bower. “This is the first time we have had a blue spruce though. The branches are stiffer and don’t fold up like a Douglas fir or Fraser fir. We have to be careful not to break them.”

And they were.

Once the tree was on the ground, it was hoisted onto a flatbed trailer and secured for its nine-mile journey to Penn Square in Lancaster. They traveled along Route 501 as motorists noted that somebody had a really big Christmas tree this year.

Bower has been city arborist since 1989. Each year it is his task to track down the best Christmas tree for the city. Some are too big. Some are too small. Some are too close to utility wires. Garner’s tree turned out to be just right, with no wires nearby to create a hazard.

As soon as Bower saw it, he knew it was the right one.

Beth Forney and Randy Garner donated a 37-foot blue spruce tree on their property to become the Lancaster City Christmas tree in Penn Square this holiday season.

It was actually the third time that the tree had been suggested to the city. Garner’s girlfriend Beth Forney had seen a notice three years ago in the Lancaster newspaper, seeking a Christmas tree. Garner offered his tree in 2015 and again in 2016. This year, Lancaster took them up on the offer.

Over the years, the blue spruce had gotten bigger and bigger. When Garner moved to his home in 2009, the tree was already there, just a bit to the right in his front yard. It was big, but not as big as it has become in recent years.

“It totally dominates my front yard,” says Garner, noting that he had trouble backing out of his driveway and the tree was crushing another nearby tree.

One of Garner’s neighbors told him the tree was about six feet tall back in 1993, when his house was built. Back then, it sat right where his house was built. The developer moved the tree to the front yard to make room for it.

Garner says he will miss the tree, but he’s happy to know it has a new home for the holidays. He plans to plant grass in its spot and later, many another tree of some type that won’t be quite as huge.

In a little more than a week, Garner’s tree will be all decked out for the holidays in downtown Lancaster.

Laura Knowles is a freelance feature writer and regular contributor to the pages of the Record Express. She welcomes feedback and story tips at lknowles21@gmail.com.


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