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      Capitol Christmas tree cut in U.P.

      It TMs only been a week since Halloween, but some of us are already thinking about Christmas. That includes state officials, who cut down the state Capitol Christmas tree in Marquette County on Thursday.

      With the Negaunee High School band playing Christmas carols and onlookers waiting for crews to tie off the 64-foot spruce, it's a day George Miljour never thought he'd see. He has lived at his Suomi Location home just south of Palmer for 68 years, and for all those years, this tree has been in his yard.

      They said they had many of them, but this is the biggest tree and nicest one," said George.

      After one of his daughters sent in a letter to the state, it was added to the list of future Christmas trees for the Capitol. But because of its age, it took priority this year.

      "The tree is getting old and it's starting to decline and we didn't want to take a chance on waiting any longer," said Denny Olson, with the State Christmas tree crew.

      After cutting down the tree, a crane held the spruce--dangling the weight of a small dump truck--a few feet above the ground. There was no yelling timber; this six story spruce was let down gently. And now that the backyard will be empty, the family knows they took it for granted.

      "It's just been a tree that we really haven't even noticed, said daughter Doris Campain. I think the porch covers it when you come in the back door and you really don't see the tree, so it's just always been there."

      But now it will be noticed by thousands downstate. The six ton tree is roughly 80 years old. The flatbed will haul it to Lansing, where it will be decorated. On November 21, the tree will be lit up during the Silver Bells Parade.