By MIKE FERGUSON
Of the Baker City Herald
You cant just wake up in the morning and decide youre going to hack down the Community Christmas Tree especially when youve got your eye on a 45-foot blue spruce that weighs nearly nine tons.
It takes time, says Historic Baker City program manager Diane Adams. In fact, with all the help she gets from prospective tree donors, one could say it takes most of the year to get the tree cut down, transported, erected downtown twice this year, after a Thanksgiving weekend wind blew it down lighted, decorated, and, finally, switched on this Saturday night following the annual Twilight Christmas Parade.
Adams says that every year around the time the tree goes up, a handful of area residents call her to offer up their tree for next year. Each fall, she and a few members of the HBC board of directors scout out the various offers and make their selection.
Shortly after the tree is lighted every year, people call and say, Have I got a tree for you! Adams said. This year we had three that we looked at, and while we were cutting down this years tree, a neighbor came over and told us he had next years tree in his yard.
This year, HBCs pick was a giant, elegant 50-year-old tree at the home of Andy and Jo Dickison.
The giant tree was cut down by chainsaw operator Chuck Carey. Scott Hill served as crane operator, and Jim Michel Logging trucked the tree downtown, staying beneath the power lines all the while.
Baker City public works employee Tiny Moudy had a largely anonymous but vital job: safe inside a cherry picker, he pushed into the tree so he could attach a strap before Hill could hook the tree.
The tree didnt get downtown without a struggle: the Dickisons massive spruce had to shed about six tons of branches and trunk before it would fit into the hole at its downtown location at the corner of Court and Main streets.
I feel like Im losing an old friend, Jo Dickison said as she and Andy watched the workers prepare to remove the tree. Ive always given directions to our house by telling people, Its the house with the big tree in front.
In fact, she said, their neighbors are going to be shocked when they return from vacation and find the tree gone.
Dickison said her daughter-in-law in Joseph called her just before the tree was to come down, offering her a nice little tree to plant in the hole.
She was just trying to console me, she said.
Its probably one of the prettiest blue spruces in our neighborhood, said neighbor Irv Mahugh. I hate to see it go.
But Mahugh and neighbors Larry and Shirlene Blum agreed that the community will benefit when everyone gets to see the blue giant all lit up Saturday night.