“We just had a gentleman show up from the Great Lake Timber Professionals Association and said a tree in Onaway had been selected for the state Christmas tree,” said Kelli Stockwell, Onaway City Manager.
It’s only October, but the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget is already hard at work preparing for the upcoming holiday season. The state has been selecting an official Christmas tree to grace the capitol each year since 1987, but this will be the first from Presque Isle county. “We want to thank the Rupert family for donating the tree,” said Stockwell. “It’s in memory for his wife Shirley who just passed away not that long ago, so I’d think she’d be very happy.”
Vic Ruppert wants people to remember Shirley as a wife, mother, and sister. The tree donated in her honor reaches 60 feet in height and will be harvested with a ceremony October 26. “It’s a full city effort, that’s right,” said Stockwell, “We’ll be working with M.D.O.T. to get M–211 closed down, and that will be closed from 7:30 in the morning until 1 in the afternoon. It’s a long process because a crane will be moved in the night before, staged, and then that morning the tree will be hooked up, the program will happen, and it will be cut down and loaded on the truck to be taken down to Lansing.”
Once at the capitol, there will be a tree lighting ceremony and the 39th annual Silver Bells In the City celebration on November 17. “We want to welcome anyone to come see it,” said Stockwell. “I think this is kind of once in a lifetime. Out of the 36 years they’ve been doing this, only 13 have been from Lower Michigan.”