York City trying to 'spruce' up square — already


Autumn is creeping up faster than you might realize. Supermarkets are laying out their candy-corn displays, and the City of York has intensified its search for the perfect Christmas tree to put on Continental Square this December.

"We have about six people who have volunteered their trees already," said Carol Godfrey, a data entry clerk in the city's Electrical Bureau and Building Maintenance department who helps organize and direct the tree search.

But they need more to choose from.

"We like to have at least 20 to look at," said Godfrey. "If someone says, 'Well, my tree looks good,' if you only have a couple of others, you don't have much to compare it to."

Qualifications: So what does a tree fit for the square look like?

"We want the typical Christmas tree, but in the 30- to 40-foot range," said Dave Rudolph, superintendent of the department.

Something in the spruce family, round, with a nice shape, he said. They usually pick a blue spruce.

It should be within 20 miles of the city, in the front or side yard of the house, away from power lines, so that a crane has easy access.

"One of the guys will go up in the tree and attach a harness, which goes to the crane," said Godfrey.

Then, they will start cutting the trunk from the bottom.

"I've done 31 of them so far, with the city," said Rudolph. "It's just another work day, but all the guys take pride in it because everyone sees it."

Usually, the work the department does happens behind the scenes, he said.

In Rudolph's time, there has been only one major mishap, he said: after picking up the tree, "We made the first turn and the tree rolled off the tractor-trailer we were hauling it on," he said.

Family stories: For many families, the tree they donate has been a fixture in their lives for decades.

"People tell stories of (the trees being young) when their children were small, and now the kids have families of their own," said Godfrey.

People who offer their trees will get to see them lit with 2,500 to 3,000 LEDs beginning on Dec. 4, with Light Up Night.

"You'd be surprised at what some people try to donate," said Rudolph. "You show up and it's a maple tree. Or worse than a Charlie Brown tree. Everyone always thinks their tree is the best."

To volunteer your tree, call Carol Godfrey at (717) 845-9351.