The tallest Christmas tree the Village of Saugerties has ever had is the centerpiece of its holiday celebration and the gathering point for the annual Holiday in the Village on December 3.
Stationed in the Reis parking lot, the spruce was estimated to be more than 35 feet tall by members of the village’s Department of Public Works. The DPW ran out of lights decorating the huge tree, something that has never happened before.
Mayor William Murphy had to open the village’s wallet to buy more lights. Some DPW workers bought some lights with their own money.
Each year the village tree is donated by local families. This year the Bertolotta family donated the tree, which had graced their front yard on Kalina Drive for more than 30 years. Family matriarch Karen says she’s tried to donate the tree to the village before. “I called the village hall last year saying that I have a tree I want to donate, but was told they were using a tree that someone else was donating,” she said. “So I called again this year, and they said they said they’d take it.”
“The tree got so big that we could no longer see the street,” said her husband Tony. “The kids used to hide behind it when playing hide ‘n’ seek.”
There is more than one story as to how the family acquired the small seedling that grew into the mighty evergreen. Karen said it might have been when eldest daughter, Annemarie, was named to the National Honor Society at Saugerties High School. Or it might have been on a long-past Arbor Day.
Middle daughter Carrie wasn’t sure where the seedling came from. Youngest daughter Jessica wasn’t home to offer an opinion on the tree’s origin.
“All I know, we got it 30 years and planted it in the front yard,” Karen and Tony say.
Is the family sad to see the tree go? Even the young grandkids who were there on Monday morning when the DPW showed up to cut the tree down were willing to see it go. Seven-year old granddaughter Lauren said that everyone was pretty happy that “other people would get a chance to enjoy the tree, too.”
There’s a big plus side. “It means a lot do us to be able to donate the village Christmas tree,” said grandfather Tony. Added grandmother Karen, “Everyone thinks it’s pretty cool.”
At 8 a.m., this past Monday, the DPW arrived with a front-end loader, a large fork hoist, and a chain saw, ready to cut the tree down and transport it.
The previous week, the DPW has been there to shore up the tree and to install a couple of bolts to hold what worker Sean Murphy said was a “co-dominant” portion of the tree together. They didn’t want it to split.
Because of the size of the tree, DPW superintendent Robert Fanelli asked former DPW super Robert Ciarlante for a flatbed truck that could be used to move the fallen tree.
As the tree was being readied to be moved, Annemarie, the daughter who brought the seedling home, called, saying she “was so excited to see it coming down that it took my breath away.” Her sister Carrie was taking video of the process and streaming it to Annemarie.
Grandsons Jack and Cameron, four and three respectively, were entranced by the workers and the construction equipment. Grandma Karen, overseeing the job while Tony was at work, smiled her approval.
Cutting the tree down and getting it to Reis Park didn’t end the story. After a number of attempts, the DPW was able to swing the huge tree into place where it could be anchored down.
Wanting to get the tree decorated for the village all in one day as day turned into night, the DPW workers volunteered their own time to finish the job.
On December 3 the evergreen will welcome kids and their families from throughout the area to the village. It will serve as the backdrop for the annual Sawyer Motor’s Foundation’s toy raffle.