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Christmas tree arrives in downtown Middletown; it's bigger than last year's

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 11/17/17

Twenty-one feet at its widest point, Middletown’s 2017 Christmas tree would have qualified as a wide load as it was making its way down Union Street being led by a borough police escort with lights …

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Christmas tree arrives in downtown Middletown; it's bigger than last year's

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Twenty-one feet at its widest point, Middletown’s 2017 Christmas tree would have qualified as a wide load as it was making its way down Union Street being led by a borough police escort with lights a-flashing on Friday, Nov. 16.

But as Mayor James H. Curry III put it, “nobody does Christmas like Middletown.”

The Douglas fir was donated to the borough by a family living in Hummelstown, just a few miles outside of the borough in the neighborhood near Stauffers of Kissel Hill on Middletown Road, the mayor said.

“It just happened to be the right size, the right shape,” the mayor said as he watched borough crews start setting the tree in place in front of the McNair House at East Emaus and North Union streets. “It was a situation where the family wanted to get rid of the tree because of some landscaping issues. It was growing against their house, so rather than it just being cut down and mulched up we thought we would give it one last hurrah here in Middletown, similar to what we did last year.”

The borough picked up the tree shortly before noon. The Christmas convoy made its way down Vine Street into the borough, with bystanders capturing the procession on their cellphones.

This year’s tree is bigger than last year’s. The 2016 tree was diseased and about to die, and for that reason donated to the borough by a Middletown resident.

The 2017 tree, as the mayor noted, is healthier by comparison. The tree is probably 4 feet higher than last year’s, and “much, much, much wider.”

“There are towns that don’t have a tree 21 feet tall. We have one that is 21 feet wide,” he boasted.

The size caused some difficulty. It was hauled into the intersection of Union and Emaus streets and backed into position between poles and overhead wires.

It quickly became evident that the trunk of the tree wouldn’t fit in the metal base already in the ground.

What followed was more than an hour of hard work by Middletown Public Works employees, including extended time with a chainsaw by John Hevel. Eventually, the trunk was sheared down enough that it fit into the 4-foot-deep base. It will be decorated Monday.

A number of people had expressed interest in donating their tree to Middletown this year, the mayor added. The tree from Hummelstown was chosen after Middletown resident Jenny Miller showed a picture of it to borough council.

“We don’t just cut down random live trees,” Curry said. “We try to find one like this where the homeowner is already getting rid of it or there is a problem with it, and then we use it for the Christmas season here.”

The Christmas tree lighting ceremony will take place at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2.

As with last year, ornaments to hang on the tree are being made by Middletown Sheet Metal and Fabrication Inc. to be sold to residents. Proceeds from sale of the ornaments will go into a fund the borough has established to pay for new holiday decorations for Hoffer Park.

The borough purchased some new decorations for the park from the money that was raised during last year’s Holiday season. Some money from then is still left over, and money from the ornaments sold this year will be added to that.

“After three to five years you’re going to have something down at Hoffer Park that nobody can rival,” the mayor predicted. “Middletown is setting the bar high in terms of municipalities — the things that we offer the public, the things that we offer our children and displays like this. We just want to keep that momentum going.”

The Santa House will be coming back. That was Curry’s big surprise during the 2016 Christmas tree-lighting ceremony — unveiling a restored Santa House that had not been seen by Middletown residents for decades.

The mayor pledges to have another surprise for residents on the night of the Christmas tree lighting, but good luck getting the details out of him before then.

Otherwise, the Dec. 2 tree lighting will include food provided by several downtown vendors, including the Brownstone, Tattered Flag and Kuppy’s Diner, the mayor said.

People who haven’t been able to buy an ornament for the tree will be able to purchase one on the night of the tree lighting.

Also to be available for sale will be caps and other “creative” hand-made items that several volunteers throughout the town have been working on all year long, the mayor said.

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