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Square spruce up

Changes mean last big Christmas tree

Changes mean last big Christmas tree

November 16, 2005|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, PA.

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

It's the last big evergreen to herald in the Christmas season in Waynesboro's center square, but it's not slipping silently into history.

The tree, a 35-foot-tall blue spruce, had just been lowered to the ground by a Grove crane Tuesday morning when 15 feet of its top broke off.

It's the last tree in the square because the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in the spring begins its long-discussed remake of the public square and synchronization of downtown Waynesboro's traffic control system.

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The new configuration leaves no room for a large holiday tree.

PennDOT's design for the four-way intersection, approved by the Borough Council, fills in the four sides with brick sidewalks. Two narrow brick walkways will cross the square north and south from both sides of Church Street.

"Next year, we'll put four small trees on each corner of the square," said MaryBeth Hockenberry, executive director of the Greater Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce. She was on the square Tuesday morning watching volunteers put up the tree.

John Beck and J. Rock, employees of Green Arbor Flower & Shrubbery Center, were shaving the bottom of the trunk with a chain saw before dropping it into a 3-foot deep hole, a permanent fixture in the square that holds the Yule tree in place.

David Lee George, owner of D.L. George & Sons, a local construction company, donated use of the truck-mounted crane to handle the tree. The top of the tree broke off when the crane dropped the spruce into the hole, Hockenberry said.

She and others think the top may have been weakened when the tree was lifted from the front lawn of Jeff Stone and Tina Wingert's home at 5800 Buchanan Trail East. The couple donated the tree to the borough.

Much maneuvering was required to avoid overhead wires in the yard, Hockenberry said.

George had his workers fashion a metal sleeve to fit over the broken ends of the tree. It doesn't look quite as perfect as it did before it broke. Hockenberry said its appearance will improve when the rest of the branches are wired.

Gary Decker of Decker Electrical Services Inc. of Waynesboro volunteered to put the lights on the tree today.

The 2005 Christmas tree isn't the only one to suffer disaster. Locals recall a windy night in 2000 that blew down the borough's tree. It was picked up and redecorated, remembered Richard Jones, 79, captain of the Waynesboro Fire Police. Members were directing traffic through the square while the tree was being put up Tuesday.

Stone's and Wingert's son, Chase Stone, 5, will flip the switch Friday evening that turns on the lights during Waynesboro's annual tree-lighting ceremony, Hockenberry said.

Wingert said the tree is 52 years old. Marcus Shipp, who built their house in 1954, planted the spruce the year before, she said.

"It got to be too big in front of the house," Wingert said.

A Japanese maple will replace the spruce in the spring, she said.

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