Soft falling snow, hot coffee, and excited school children. One might almost think Christmas had come early in Iron River on Wednesday morning, and in a way, it did.
A 70-foot Blue Spruce tree in the yard of Jonny and Barbara Waara of Iron River was selected to be the State Christmas Tree at the Capitol in Lansing. The Waaras were contacted by Denny Olson, who is with the State Christmas Tree Crew, to see if they would be interested in donating their tree.
??That would be awesome,?? said Jonny Waara. ??We??ve been in the running for four years now, and this is the year they decided we were going to be the tree, so everyone and the whole family is very excited.??
The statewide effort has been going on since 1987 and involved was the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget, the Michigan Association of Timber men, the Great Lakes Timber Professional Association, and the West Iron County schools.
To be the one tree chosen out of every other tree in the entire state of Michigan, it has to be one special and sizeable spruce.
??This particular tree,?? explained harvester, Denny Olson, ??everything worked out perfect. The parking lot right here for the crane, no wires to deal with, Jonny took down his fence.??
It took local area sawyers, timber men from downstate, and one massive crane to take a tree that's been in one spot for decades, and relocate it 485 miles to the State Capitol. Once the Christmas tree was cut, its rings were counted, with at least 70 to show for its decades of life in this small U.P. town.
??It was a beautiful tree, but it was time, and I??m glad we were able to give this gift for the state of Michigan and the people of Michigan,?? Waara said.
The community turn-out for the event was so large, they broke the record of the most people in attendance for a state tree cutting. ??I??ll tell you what, this tree, this 2013 tree, and how the city of Iron River came together, they have just opened up and rolled the red carpet out for us to harvest the state tree,?? Olson said.