The community of Onaway gathered today to witness the harvesting of the State Christmas Tree. The Onaway band played music, the schools were in attendance, and State Representative Cam Cavitt did the official tree cutting.
The state tree harvest crew searched far and wide amongst billions of Michigan trees to pick this year’s spruce. The requirements are strict, and Heath Miller, DTMB State Tree Harvest crew member, said “It’s got to be at least 60 foot tall, the trunk has to be 30 inches or less, the crown of it has to be 24 foot or less, because that’s where it sits at the capital.”
While people can submit nominations for trees starting in may, this year’s was found while the team was driving by in-between nominations. Denny Olson, Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association director of Michigan affairs said, “No matter when I’m driving, I’m always looking for a Christmas tree for the Capitol.”
Owner of the selected tree, Vic Ruppert, donated the tree along with his son, in honor of his late wife, Shirley. He was amazed by the community support. “You usually don’t see this many people in Onaway unless it’s the 4th of July parade,” said Ruppert. The community was glad to be a part of the celebration. Pete Szala, a local Onaway resident said “It’s quite an honor.”
The harvesting also highlights how the timber industry works and the importance of this renewable resource. Once the tree was cut, multiple teams worked together to prepare the tree for transport to Lansing. Denny Olson even noted that the tree was reaching the end of its lifespan and was found just in time. “Out of all the trees in Michigan, and to pick this one, and have the response from this little Northern Michigan community, it just thrills me,” said Olson.