Holmes Beach gets a Christmas tree

Holmes Beach Christmas tree
This blue cypress tree, also known as a blue ice, was raised for 10 years by Holmes Beach resident and parks and beautification committee member Dennis Groh before he donated it to be the city’s new Christmas tree. - Kristin Swain | Sun

HOLMES BEACH – After the idea of having a live Christmas tree came up in the October parks and beautification committee meeting, it didn’t take long for one to be planted at city field with the idea that residents can watch the blue cypress Christmas tree grow year after year.

Once the committee brought up the idea, liaison Commissioner Carol Soustek decided to follow up on it with committee member Dennis Groh. Groh just happened to have a 10-year-old blue cypress that he’d grown from a sapling in his backyard. He donated the tree to the city and it was quickly moved to city field where it was replanted and is planned to be decorated with Christmas lights and lit on Dec. 18 in a city-sponsored lighting ceremony, with commission approval. City commissioners will vote on the matter during their Dec. 11 meeting.

“It was a brilliant idea,” Soustek said, adding that she hopes the tree will help to bring the community together and spread some holiday cheer. “Things started falling into place like it was meant to be.”

At the Dec. 5 parks and beautification meeting, Mayor Judy Titsworth said the tree was moved to city field and replanted without going through the proper approval channels. She said the location of the tree, near the pavilion, is problematic because it is in the path of a planned, but not approved, grand entrance to the park complex. The complex is currently in the design phase with city engineer Lynn Burnett at the helm. Titsworth said she expects the commission to approve the tree and planned tree lighting ceremony but is concerned that the tree may have to be moved to a different location.

“If you move the tree it won’t make it,” Groh said. “You can’t move a tree like that twice.”

In its current location with lots of care from public works employees and staked for a year so that its roots can establish themselves, Groh said the tree has an 80 percent or better chance of survival. He said the roots wouldn’t survive the shock of being dug up and moved again.

“It’s a beautiful tree,” Titsworth said, adding that the city would do its best to work with the current location. “It’s an oops we can live with.”

A tree lighting ceremony is tentatively scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 18 with light refreshments provided.