Christmas tree on the move
By Tony Graf email@example.com November 9, 2012 2:55PM
Updated: January 10, 2013 1:46AM
JOLIET — The 40-foot-tall blue spruce was like a floating fortress, with dozens of branches of green needles sweeping through the air like a giant broom.
The large Christmas tree — to be displayed in downtown Joliet this holiday season — was suspended in mid-air Friday morning in a Joliet neighborhood, awaiting its trip to Van Buren Plaza in the City Center.
After the tree was cut, its trunk no longer touched the ground. A boom truck held the spruce aloft by an attached cable.
The crew then carefully guided the tree onto the trailer of another truck. It was part of a complicated, daylong operation — donated by Homer Tree Care of Lockport.
“We are very thrilled to be able to do this,” said Mike Fitzpatrick of Homer Tree Care.
The tree was donated by Fred Harvey, a Will County assistant state’s attorney. His downtown office is near Van Buren Plaza.
“It’s nice that I get to visit my tree for the next couple months,” Harvey said.
Homer Tree Care trucks arrived at the Joliet residential street, and the crews quickly went to work. A worker with a chainsaw began cutting off dead branches from the bottom of the tree. These branches were between 10 feet and 20 feet long — large enough to be small trees themselves.
Then the crew raked up branches and brown leaves from the lawn around the wide-reaching spruce.
Another crew worker, in a bucket high in the air, attached a cable to the top of the tree.
The big moment came around 9:37 a.m. The tree was cut loose and started swinging gently in the air, its branches swishing in the wind. At this point, the crew could weigh the tree by scales: Joliet’s 2012 Christmas tree is 4,500 pounds.
On another truck, a crew member operated a hydraulic grapple. The grapple took hold of the lower trunk and helped position it on the trailer.
“It was really a team effort of 10 guys,” Fitzpatrick said.
Once the tree was secured on the trailer, crews then transported the tree to Van Buren Plaza in downtown Joliet. They had the tree in place between 11:30 a.m. and noon.
Russ Lubash, traffic engineer for the city of Joliet, coordinated efforts between the city and Homer Tree Care at the original site.
Light Up the Holidays
The tree will be featured in the festive Tree Lighting Ceremony at 5:15 p.m. Nov. 23 at Chicago and Van Buren streets in downtown Joliet.
The Light Up the Holidays Parade will follow at 5:30 p.m.
For more information, visit www.jolietdowntown.com.