Vol­un­teers dec­o­rate Ce­cil County Holly Tree

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By JANE BELLMYER

jbellmyer@ce­cil­whig.com

— Spread out on the grass near the Ce­cil County Holly Tree on Jack­son Sta­tion Road, vol­un­teers spent hours Satur­day un­tan­gling hun­dreds of yards of or­na­ments.

“I’ve prob­a­bly been work­ing on this strand for 40 min­utes,” said Tina Daw­son from Havre de Grace.

Fans of the holly tree tra­di­tion, joined by stu­dents from Per­ryville High School and the Tome School along with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Heart­land Land­scap­ing and Tree Ser­vices and Ex­elon care­fully worked through the tan­gled strings not only to straighten them out but also to check for dam­age.

Tay­lor De­masi and Adri­anna Gi­u­liani got a strand cleared and set about re­plac­ing bro­ken halves of the or­na­ments. Only a zip tie and a small ny­lon screw hold the two halves to­gether re­gard­less of the size of the orb.

PER­RYVILLE

Kim­berly Gal­la­her, an­other vol­un­teer, pointed to a large card­board box full of plas­tic halves wait­ing for their as­sign­ments.

“Since they’re only two halves they some­times get wa­ter in them,” Gal­la­her said adding that pulls on the en­tire strand and the tree.

Michael Mor­gan, pres­i­dent of the Ce­cil County Holly Tree Com­mit­tee and owner of Heart­land Land­scap­ing, said the main holly tree will have a half mile of lights and or­na­ments adorn its branches. More lights were hung on the three ad­join­ing trees.

Orig­i­nally dubbed The Trav­eler’s Tree in 1947, the Jack­son Sta­tion Road Holly Tree was lit ev­ery year through­out De­cem­ber un­til the 1970s. En­gi­neers for the Baltimore & Ohio Rail­road would wear the leaves and berries from the tree on their lapels. Trains would stop so its rid­ers could en­joy the stately tree.

Af­ter al­most a decade of dark­ness, the tree was lit again in 1985 and has been decked out and cel­e­brated ev­ery year since.

Ad­mis­sion to view the tree is free but do­na­tions are ac­cepted.

Mor­gan said the orig­i­nal tree has been re­placed with thriv­ing saplings from its own roots.

“It’s very vig­or­ous right now,” Mor­gan said Sun­day. He’s not sure if the new growth came from the trunk or the berries of that orig­i­nal tree.

It will be at least 50 years be­fore the new holly trees reach full growth, he added. In an­other 10 to 20 years, the com­mit­tee will have to watch the trees to make sure they are free of the dis­ease that struck that orig­i­nal tree.

Re­gard­less of how high the trees grow, Miller said the pole topped with a star would re­main.

“The lights and or­na­ments are too heavy. They were break­ing the tree,” Mor­gan said. “The top of the pole is 60 feet. That’s how high the orig­i­nal tree was.”

The stain­less steel star has been a part of the tree since the 1950s, Mor­gan said.

So while tech­ni­cally the tree is not dec­o­rated en­tirely branch by branch, the sight of the tow­er­ing lights is still mem­o­rable.

“I will be back to see it lit,” Gi­u­liani said.

The first light­ing comes Dec. 3. While the cel­e­bra­tion be­gins at 4, Mor­gan said the lights would be turned on at night­fall for the full ef­fect.

With only four ac­tive vol­un­teers on the com­mit­tee Mor­gan is look­ing for more peo­ple to help op­er­ate the Holly Tree Park each evening from Dec. 4 un­til the new year. In­di­vid­u­als and groups are wel­come. Call Mor­gan at 410-287-9328 for de­tails.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JANE BELLMYER

Anna Martin from Havre de Grace and Julie Swo­boda and Lau­ren Panozzo from North East tackle a mess of stringed or­na­ments that will even­tu­ally be hung on the Ce­cil County Holly Tree on Jack­son Sta­tion Road near Per­ryville.

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