CAMBRIDGE — ‘Tis the season, the hunting season, and our merry party of eight set off on Saturday morning to find our quarry. Not a deer, not a flying fowl, no camouflage. The hunt was on for a beautiful tree, the tree that would “spruce” up the bandstand at Spring Valley, outside the Circuit Court building.
The hunting party consisted of Amy Craig, clerk of the Circuit Court, who handled the legal tender, and her husband, Bill, the hunting party’s sawyer. Patti Tieder brought along her ten-year-old son Jackson, whose thoughtfulness and helpfulness was noted by all, and maybe even Santa. Billie Norton of the keen eye was critical in this endeavor; she was critical of scrawny and lopsided trees.
Commissioner Gage Thomas of the Cambridge City Council rode in Danny Muffeletta’s big flatbed truck with a crane, providing transport for our prize. And me, I was the reporter in this hunt who would do the actual shooting, (of photos of course.) The search is establishing a tradition, since this is the second year of raising a tree at the Courthouse.
For me, it was also a nostalgic trip, remembering the last time I covered a tree story. Then I was city reporter and the tree was destined to deck Rockefeller Center in New York, and be seen by millions. The big trees in Rockefeller Center are sometimes scouted by helicopter and they have come from at least six states and Canada. It took Patti, Billie, and Amy less than an hour to spot our twenty-two footer, a sweet symmetrical spruce among the 20,000 at the Nichols Farm in Hebron.
The huge New York tree is a minimum of 75 feet tall and a max of 125 feet. Any larger, and the telescoping flatbed truck can’t maneuver through Manhattan streets.
Just imagine the size of the crew needed to find, cut, and bring the grand tree back to New York city. Impressive, but on Saturday, so was Bill Craig as he handled the saw with speed and dexterity. The hunting party’s three men oversaw loading the holiday spruce onto the truck and into Cambridge.
Every year, Rockefeller Center has a professional crew to decorate the gorgeous tree. Cambridge also had a professional yet volunteer crew. The Rescue Fire Company with its four-story tower arrived to put up the lights. They hadn’t quite finished draping the lower branches when they were called away to a fire.
New York City’s tree tradition, now in its eighty-second year, will be lighted on Dec.3. Thousands will be jammed into the streets for the star-studded show and millions more will watch it on television. What about Cambridge? Our tree will be lighted on Nov. 29 and local groups will perform starting at 5:30 p.m.
All of the work has been done in a spirit of caring by community-minded people. We don’t expect crowds of millions, but we expect Santa, the Mayor, the Chorus of Dorchester, other local groups...and you.