CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago’s official Christmas tree was cut down Thursday morning from between a couple of houses in northwest suburban Wauconda.
Bill Scholla, 78, planted the 69-foot tall Norwegian spruce more than 45 years ago. It was only two-feet tall then. A neighbor who had been doing some landscaping and had an extra tree had given it to him.
Scholla said he, his wife Margie, and his family will miss the tree.
“My children played underneath the tree, and my grandchildren played underneath the tree, and we’re all sorry to see it go, but everybody that sees it down in Millennium Park is going to enjoy it,” he said.
The tree will be delivered to Millennium Park on Friday, and the official lighting will be Nov. 18.
The city picked Scholla’s tree from among more than 120 submissions to the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events over the summer and fall.
Scholla said it was the second or third time he had entered the city’s competition to be able to donate the official Christmas tree. He says he came in second place last year and was encouraged to re-enter this year, the second year the city’s tree will be in Millennium Park. For nearly 50 years before that, the city’s Christmas tree had been in Daley Plaza.
The tree might never have been destined for Millennium Park had it not been for the fact that Scholla had planted where he had. He said, in recent years, he’d become worried a storm might knock it into one of their houses.
“If the tree wasn’t as close to my house and my neighbor’s house as it is, I would have never cut it down, because I love pine trees,” he said. “Some of the storms we’ve been getting around here, we’re getting a lot of heavy winds and that with them, and I was afraid that the tree was going to finally snap and do damage to the building.”
Scholla said the tree removal service gave him a couple of the tree’s bottom ring cuts, which are about 30 inches in diameter. The retired carpenter said he plans to make a couple of tables out of them.