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Tree is holiday gift to borough

November 18, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The biggest present for the Borough of Chambersburg this holiday season won't be found under the tree - it is the tree.

For the first time in five years, the borough is reviving its tradition of a town Christmas tree thanks to some timely donations.

Last month, Betty Menhorn ran into Chambersburg Mayor Tom Newcomer at First Lutheran Church and asked him if the borough would be able to use the 35-foot blue spruce she wanted to cut down in her Broad Street yard.

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"He said it sounded like a wonderful idea," Menhorn said.

Since then, area businesses and the borough have rallied to purchase lights, decorations and to move the tree to Memorial Square, said Sherry Tarquino, a borough employee on the 200th Anniversary Committee.

"It's really a beautiful blue spruce," she said.

Menhorn said the tree had outgrown her property in the 20 years she has lived in her home.

"I had it trimmed several times, and it had gotten so large, but I thought, you just can't chop it down," she said.

Last year the borough declined Menhorn's offer, but this time, everything fell into place.

On Tuesday, at the hands of George Pogue and the Cumberland Valley Tree Service, the spruce was cut and trimmed.

There were a few roadblocks to overcome, however, before the giant tree could travel to its new home.

The borough sent a crane to hoist the tree onto a truck, but the tree was too large.

The tree and its rain-soaked branches were left hanging over Broad Street under the watchful eye of one employee for about 90 minutes while the Public Works employees built a frame that would keep the tree anchored on the truck, Menhorn said.

"Moving the tree was something else. It took about five hours," she said.

She said she never expected her simple gift would cause such a stir, but the community is talking about the tree and Menhorn now has its journey chronicled in a photo album.

"A lot of people do ask why we don't have a tree on Memorial Square, so we started putting things together," Tarquino said.

In addition to Pogue's help in cutting the tree, business owner Will Pananes donated the lights that will go on the tree today, she said.

Snowflakes will also adorn the tree and will be visible during the day while the lights will be turned on at night.

"It will be simple and pretty," Tarquino said. "Everyone seems to be tickled about it."

In the past, the borough built a frame around the fountain in the square and laid real trees up against it to make it look like one huge tree.

Five years ago the borough had the fountain restored and was warned the trees were too heavy and sap would get in the fountain and cause problems.

"Because of the value of the fountain, that was stopped," Tarquino said.

But for the 50 or 60 years before, there was always a tree downtown.

Newcomer said the publicity surrounding Menhorn's gift has generated interest from others. He's already received a call from another borough resident who wants to donate his tree next year.

"People are just coming out to help," he said.

The tree was erected Wednesday in the southwest corner of the square, near Central Presbyterian Church.

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