Of the Baker City Herald

With all the preparation that cutting down the community Christmas tree requires, logger Chuck Carey's work is almost an anticlimax.

andquot;It's just like cutting down a regular tree,andquot; Carey said just minutes before he fired up his chainsaw Saturday morning and made short work of freeing the tree from its former home near Baker High School. andquot;You just make a pie-shaped cut about one-third the way into the trunk, and OTEC takes it from there.andquot;

Indeed, far more time is taken as volunteers Russ Rankin and Rodney Wolf place an OTEC bucket truck in position and attach the top of the big spruce to a boom.

That work allows the tree to be lifted off its stump, preventing one side of branches from being damaged in the fall.

andquot;It's a really nice looking tree,andquot; Carey says before his work, andquot;other than the twin tops.andquot;

That gives Chuck Phegley, who donated his truck to haul the tree downtown, an idea.

andquot;It leaves room for a Christmas Star and a Star of David,andquot; he says with a smile.

The 37-foot blue spruce, donated by Joe and Ellen Vershnik, was the near-unanimous choice of a committee put together each year by Historic Baker City. HBC program manager Terrie Laeger said the committee was looking for a beautiful tree, but not one so large that it could not be hauled downtown easily.

She marvels at the dedication of the crew that turned out Saturday to move the tree downtown.

andquot;It amazes me that anyone would volunteer to give up their Saturday after Thanksgiving to do this,andquot; she said.

Now that it's been installed in its customary home at the corner of Court and Main streets, the community Christmas tree will, of course, have to be decorated. Laeger said the public is invited to Wednesday evening's decorating party, which will begin at 5:30 p.m.

This year, Laeger said, the decorating group will attempt to wrap strings of lights around the tree, rather than the easier but less eye-pleasing vertical decorating approach.

It's not going to be easy. Volunteers will use long poles to hand off the lights to each other as they circle the big tree with light.

andquot;That will fix just about the biggest complaint I get every Christmas,andquot; Laeger said, smiling.

The Baker County Prevention Coalition has provided a 75-foot chain with an anti-drug message, and new silver and gold decorations have been purchased.

Five large wooden carolers will be placed nearby. Real carolers will show up Saturday evening following the Twilight Parade, when the lights will be switched on publicly for the first time.

andquot;I think this is a tree that that everybody in the community can be happy with,andquot; Laeger said.