Carroll Christmas tree, axed in budget, is back

New board re-establishes practice

  • The Carroll County Christmas tree is officially back, a bit delayed by fiscal concerns, but now standing tall and ready to be lit in a festive ceremony Thursday evening.
The Carroll County Christmas tree is officially back, a bit… (Carroll County Government,…)
December 08, 2010|By Mary Gail Hare, The Baltimore Sun

The Carroll County Christmas tree is officially back, a bit delayed by fiscal concerns, but now standing tall and ready to be lit in a festive ceremony Thursday evening.

In one of their first official acts, the five newly inaugurated Carroll County Commissioners have reinstated the tree tradition abolished by their predecessors in a cost-cutting measure. The new board plans to participate in the 6 p.m. tree-lighting ceremony in front of the County Office Building in Westminster. One offered to help serve refreshments to the crowd of onlookers.

"We believe in servant leadership, and we'll be there helping with the festivities and serving hot chocolate and cookies," said District 5 Commissioner Doug Howard in a news release. "During tough times, we need to celebrate our heritage, holidays and faith in God."

The previous board balked at the estimated $3,000 cost to cut, haul, install and decorate the tree, officials said. The three left office Monday with the county Christmas treeless.

Now with almost everything donated, including the cocoa and the 30-foot pine, the tree can spread its boughs above its stand in the county fountain — turned off for the winter — on North Center Street. Officials promise that the lights will shine throughout the holidays.

"We appreciate the symbolic austerity exhibited by the tree-lighting committee." said District 4 Commissioner Richard Rothschild. "But there is a more important message we want to convey. We call it a do-more-with-less attitude."

About six years ago, the county revived the tree tradition that dated to the 1970s. A ritual developed in the fall of 2004 that has occurred every year since.

Months before the holiday season, officials issue a request to owners of sizable pines willing to donate a tree. Then, a selection committee formed to scout those offers, often as many as a dozen and many from owners willing to part with the towering, sometimes scraggly, pine overshadowing the family home. The committee would study each offer and debate long before selecting the fullest, straightest and most manageable tree.

This year, JCK Christmas Tree Farm donated from its pine stock and several local businesses helped with the installation costs.

"Reduced funding simply means we need to use more creativity, ingenuity and a can-do attitude to get the job done. By working with our local businesses, we can put in a slightly smaller tree and decorations for a fraction of the usual costs," said District 3 Commissioner Dave Roush.

mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

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