Choosing which tree will shine bright at the Legislature grounds over the Christmas season is no easy task! Gary Smith and the warehouse team from the Edson Wildfire Management Area are those responsible and they started their lookout for the perfect tree months ago—almost twelve months ago to be exact, right after they dropped off the 2014 Christmas tree!
“Every year we go out and I spend quite a bit of personal time looking for Christmas trees. If I’m out and about, I’m on the lookout! We’ve delivered this year’s tree, but now we will start looking for next year,” Smith said.
This year’s tree is a white spruce showstopper at over 50 feet (15 metres) and weighing over 2,400 pounds. It will be the centrepiece of more than 300 trees, creating a magical, festive atmosphere for visitors and Albertans to enjoy throughout the season.
After six years of supplying the tree to the legislature, Smith has the selection process down pat. “Sometimes you’ll think you’ve got a nice tree from the south side, but the north side will be thinner. Now, we’re a lot pickier. Many of our staff will be driving and see a tree and put a ribbon on it, then they call me and we go check it out.”
Every year the tree is meticulously chosen, cut, packaged, shipped and delivered near the end of November. Every year, getting it to Edmonton also proves to be a meticulous task. Simply dropping the tree after cutting would result in one flat side, so the tree is hooked to a picker truck about halfway to the top. The cut is made and the tree is carefully loaded onto a semi-trailer. The branches are then tucked and tied down for the long drive to the Legislature. Once the tree is safely delivered, a crane lifts it into place, and the decorating can begin.
Thanks to the hard work of Gary and his team, this year’s tree will be enjoyed by thousands of visitors to the Legislature grounds over the winter months. But even after it’s taken down, it won’t go to waste. After the ornaments are removed, the branches and body will be cut into flanks and sent to a sawmill.
That won’t be for a while, though – the tree will continue to light up the Legislature grounds well into January. Walk through the grounds and check out this year’s pick if you are in Edmonton this holiday season! And to all of you, from all of us – have a very safe and happy holiday season.