The tree’s branches overflowed from a truck trailer Thursday morning as it arrived at Casper’s downtown plaza. A crane would soon hoist it to stand in the middle of the ice rink as David Street Station’s community Christmas tree.
“Being kind of a real community space for everyone, it just is a great way to bring people together and celebrate the holidays in our downtown,” David Street Station marketing manager Julie Schmitt said.
This is the third year that the plaza has selected a tree through its annual community Christmas tree contest, which calls for trees in the Casper area that must be removed.
“We obviously don’t want to cut down a perfectly good tree,” Schmitt said. “So for example it could be foundational issues, they could be affecting power lines, breaking up your concrete, your sidewalk, your driveway. So we do ask people, when they submit their tree, to have a valid reason for it to be removed.”
This year’s tree originally stood at least 37 feet tall, said Aaron Rodolph, an arborist and owner of Rodolph Brothers Inc. It’s smaller in dimensions than the previous two trees, but at 6,000 pounds it weighs in as the plaza’s heaviest tree yet — compared with last year’s far taller and approximately 3,800-pound tree.
Its many boughs give it the extra weight and a “perfect Christmas tree shape,” Rodolph said.
Ahern Rentals, Galles Greenhouse & Rock Yard, Total Oilfield Rentals and Viking Crane also volunteered to help with the tree selection and installation.
“So it’s very generous on their part, and we’re very thankful for their help, because they’re all experts in their field,” Schmitt said.
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This year’s selected tree belonged to Michelle and Eric Pribbernow at their home of 13 years. Its branches had begun to encroach on their house, and the tree had begun to lean toward the neighbors’ home, Michelle said. The roots had overgrown the yard and begun to crack the foundation.
The Pribbernows have spent time at David Street Station and last year skated around the tree with their two kids home for the holidays and other family, Michelle said. The kids grew up playing under the tree and helping pick up pine cones. The family created table centerpieces from the tree, and in their early years at the house even decorated the tree before it grew too large, she added.
She felt like she was in a Hallmark Christmas movie Thursday morning.
“It was sad, but I’m really super excited for the community to be able to enjoy this beautiful tree,” Michelle said.
The volunteer workers Thursday trimmed the tree trunk for weight and placed it in Eric’s truck bed. He’s a woodworker on the side and plans to make something for Michelle out of the wood, like a table or maybe shelves, he said.
Galles Greenhouse & Rock Yard on Friday will begin decorating the tree. The tree will be lit during the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at 6 p.m. Nov. 30 before the downtown Christmas parade at 6:45 p.m. The ice rink will open for the season 12-9 p.m. the day before, Schmitt said.
“It’s a lot of fun for the community,” Michelle said, “for families to come down here and do this.”
Follow arts & culture reporter Elysia Conner on twitter @erconner