From Rotterdam to Christmas tree glory
A 35-foot blue spruce tree that for years served as a hiding spot for Easter eggs has now taken on the role of holiday tree at East Capitol Park in Albany.
Tony Cervera planted the tree in his yard in Rotterdam back in 1970, when it was four years old and just four or five feet tall.
“We took a lot of pictures in front of that tree over the years,” Cervera reminisced.
When the tree got too big for his yard, Cervera didn’t have the heart to have it cut down and carted away, so a few years ago he called the state to see if he could donate it to be used as a holiday tree at the Capitol.
“I got a hold of one of the guys from OGS [the Office of General Services],” Cervera recounted. “He came over and looked at it last year and he wanted it last year, but they cut the budget somehow, I guess, and only used one tree, and they already had one. So this year he called me back and he said, ‘We’re interested again.’ I said, ‘Good, take it.’ ”
A crew from the Capitol took him up on his offer on Nov. 9.
“They spent a couple, three hours. They went up with a crane, took the weight off of it, cut it and lowered it onto a truck,” Cervera said.
His yard looks bare now, he admitted, but he’s considering planting a peach tree where the spruce once stood.
Cervera’s tree is one of two on display at the Capitol this holiday season. The other, which now stands in Empire State Plaza, was donated by a family in Mechanicville.
The Capitol selects its trees from an assortment of evergreens offered as donations by area residents, said OGS spokeswoman Heather Groll.
“The way we pick the trees is that we take a look to see if there are any incumbrances — how easy it is to get the tree out — because we don’t want to be confronted with power lines or fences or neighbors’ homes that are too close,” she said.
The state looks for 35- to 40-foot-tall trees because trees that height are easily transportable on a flat-bed trailer, she said.
“We look at the overall way the branches flow and the straightness of the trunk and the general overall aesthetics of the tree,” said Groll.
Once a tree has been selected, cut and transported, it’s erected.
“We have a spike that we put into the bottom of the tree, which then fits into something underneath the sidewalk. And then we stabilize the tree by staking the four corners so that it stands up to any weather that might be around,” Groll explained.
Both trees on display near the Capitol will be adorned with approximately 2,500 energy-saving LED holiday lights.
The official tree-lighting ceremony will be held at 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, in front of the tree at Empire State Plaza.
Both trees will be lit at that time.
The tree-lighting will immediately be followed by a fireworks display.
Cervera and his family look forward to attending the event and to seeing their spruce tree dressed in holiday finery.
“All the grandkids want to go,” he said.