Sandy Hook Center has a new Christmas tree.
Crews began working before 8 am on a rainy and chilly Friday, putting final touches on the ground and then readying a 32-foot Norway Spruce to be moved out of a truck-mounted tree spade, and then into a hole that had been readied for it. By 11 am May 24, the tree was in the ground, with workers putting the final shovels of dirt around its base. The ropes had been cut from around the tree, and its branches were settling into place. The rain was still falling intermittently, and the men who had been working for hours were soaking wet, but the latest addition to Sandy Hook Center was in place.
The tree is in front of the building at 2 Riverside Road. It is in the ground to the immediate west of a brand new retaining wall and sidewalk, both recently installed as part of the Sandy Hook streetscape project currently underway.
Project Foreman Rob Manna, the owner of LRM, worked with Planters Choice Nursery to find the perfect tree for the new location of a Christmas tree in Sandy Hook Center. The tree that has been used for the past 11 years has been outgrowing its location, and has also had health issues in recent years. Located within The Glen, a piece of property on the east corner of Church Hill Road and Washington Avenue owned by Newtown Forest Association, the spruce will remain in place for the time being, however.
Mr Manna, Planters Choice employee Ross Proctor and LRM employee Mike Burton found the new tree at Kudo Farm in New Preston.
"We looked at a lot of trees, spent a lot of time to get the right one," Mr Proctor said Friday morning, watching from the corner of Riverside and Glen roads as the Norway spruce was carefully moved off the spade truck and into a basket that would hold it in place while its root system takes hold.
“It’s a big, full, beautiful tree,” Mr Proctor continued. “This particular tree is about as perfectly shaped as we’re going to find and be able to move. Norway spruce is very, very hardy. It’s the perfect Christmas tree.
“This is the kind of tree they’ll put into Rockefeller Center each year,” he added. Mr Proctor estimates the tree to be between 20 and 25 years old.
The Norway spruce was transported from New Preston to Sandy Hook by Sandy Bueti, owner of Winsted-based Tree Mobile, LLC. Mr Bueti and his vice president, John Brennan, first drove with the tree into the parking lot of 4 Riverside Road, where they uncovered it. Mr Bueti then drove, with the tree still held by the tree spade, onto Washington Avenue. He backed into place, and lowered the tree into a large wire basket that had been lined with burlap.
Once the tree was straightened, crews filled the basket with topsoil, and then covered the soil with burlap that was spilling over the top of the basket. Mr Proctor watched as Planters Choice owner Chuck Newman, son Darryl Newman, and LRM employees wrapped burlap around the trunk of the spruce, and then tied it into place with nylon webbing.
“That’s some of the strongest stuff out there,” observed Kim Proctor, a landscape designer and former Newtown resident who had driven into Sandy Hook on Friday morning to watch the new tree arrive and be placed into the ground. Tree Warden Mike McCarthy was also watching the installation with interest, as were plenty of drivers who found themselves going through the busy intersection that morning. A few customers of some of the Sandy Hook Center businesses also stopped to watch the installation.
Once the webbing was sufficiently tied into place, crane operator Garrett Hill began working. The young man, an employee of A Quick Pick Crane & Rigging Service out of Derby, moved his vehicle into the northbound lane of Washington Avenue, parking parallel to the sidewalk. Lifting and then extending the arm of his crane into place, Mr Hill waited as workers carefully attached yellow webbing to key locations on the basket at the base of the tree.
He then carefully lifted the entire tree up, and slowly moved it toward the waiting hole. A few maneuvers later, the tree was standing straight, in its new home. After additional adjustments to make sure the tree would grow level, more dirt was shoveled into the hole.
By late morning, roping that had been holding the trees branches closed during transit and planting had been cut. Rain that had been falling all morning continued to water the tree, and workers were making their final adjustments to the tree’s base and the ground around it.