Iron River produces state Christmas tree

IRON RIVER – A 68-foot tall spruce tree in Iron River has been selected as Michigan’s Capitol Christmas tree for 2013. It will be cut and transported to Lansing, where it will be displayed in front of the Capitol building throughout the holiday season.

The tree is currently located in the backyard of Jonny and Barbara Waara’s home.

Jonny said that he is unsure of the tree’s age, as it was already on the property when he moved in 10 years ago.

He added that he was not actively looking to nominate his tree as the Capitol Christmas tree until he talked with Denny Olson of Breitung Township several years ago.

Olson, who sits on the Michigan Association of Timbermen Board of Directors, had spotted the spruce and told Jonny that it would be a good candidate.

“They kept an eye on the tree for a few years and this year they chose it,” said Jonny. “It’s a great thing to have the state utilize it – my family is very excited.”

MAT officially announced the selection of the Waaras’ tree on Wednesday.

Each year, MAT works with the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association and the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget in the tree selection, harvest, and delivery process.

This year’s harvest ceremony, which is open to the public, is set for Nov. 6.

Brenda Owen, MAT executive director, explained that ceremonies usually include local school bands, school children, and neighbors.

“They are on hand to watch and listen as the tree is cut from its stump, lifted by crane to the street, and placed on a waiting truck and trailer,” she said.

Owen added that once the tree arrives in Lansing, workers will spend two weeks placing lights on it in preparation for the annual Silver Bells in the City festivities on Nov. 22.