HOLMES BEACH – It was a festive evening Dec. 18 as the lights on the new city Christmas tree lit up the evening sky for the first time.
The short ceremony was attended by more than a dozen people, including Mayor Judy Titsworth, Commissioners Jim Kihm and Carol Soustek, parks and beautification chair Zan Fuller and Dennis and Carole Groh, who donated the 10-year-old tree to the city. Refreshments for the event were donated by Scott’s Deli.
With the tree planted at city field near Holmes Beach City Hall, residents and visitors alike can watch as the blue cypress grows a foot or more each year. The blue cypress was donated to the city by the Grohs, who raised the towering tree from a sapling at their Holmes Beach home. This year, the tree is decorated with strands of white lights and a sparkling gold star topper.
After the lack of a city Christmas tree was brought up at a Holmes Beach Parks and Beautification meeting, Soustek contacted Groh to see what kind of tree would be appropriate to plant. Groh said he invited her over to his home to view the tree in his backyard and the visit ended with the tree being relocated to city field. Groh said the tree was planted on a raised berm to allow the roots to burrow into their new location without being subjected to flooding. With the careful relocation of the tree and care that it’s received from public works employees, Groh said it has an 80 percent chance of survival barring any natural disaster, such as a hurricane. The tree must remain staked for a year to allow the roots time to become established.
When it was planted, the tree was a matter of some concern to Titsworth and city engineer Lynn Burnett, who has been tasked with remodeling the city field complex.
The tree was planted during the transition period after the election and did not receive proper approval from city commissioners. Commissioners later voted to have the tree lighting but have not formally agreed to keep the tree in its current location. If moved, Groh said the tree would not be able to withstand the shock and would die.
During the December parks and beautification meeting, Titsworth committed to trying to work with the current location of the tree, near the pavilion at city field, though she said future plans would need to go through appropriate channels to be approved.