Fresno Pulls Plug on Giant Christmas Tree

FRESNO, Calif. 2008 was the third year the city had a big tree and it took more than a week for city employees to haul it down from the mountains, set it up, and decorate it.

In the wake of layoffs, furloughs, and a huge budget shortfall, the city is cutting back this year. City Spokesman Randy Reed says it's not just a matter of money. "The majority of the cost is staff time. There are not really hard dollars going out the door but the staff availability is used to decorate, transport, take decorations down, so in these tight times it's appropriate to take a more modest approach this year." Reed said.

The city is still hosting a Christmas parade and other celebrations. There just won't be a big tree, where everyone can see it.

"The city is this year returning to the tradition of hosting a Christmas tree inside the lobby of city hall." Reed said.

But some folks like Scott Williams they will miss the big tree outside City Hall. "We came down and watched them put it together last year so, bring out the sky lift and put all the ornaments on it. We will miss that." He said.

But, others like State Employee Pat Rocha who works across the street from City Hall agrees with the city decision to cut costs.

"It was a beautiful tree, but at the same time the cost of keeping it up, and especially with all the layoffs at city hall I think it's too much this year." Rocha said.

Many other valley cities, including Clovis will have their traditional tree lightings. City Council member Bob Whalen says everyone is invited.

"The Christmas Spirit is alive and well in Clovis, on December 7th we will be lighting our Christmas Tree at 6:30 over at City Hall," said Whalen.

The Clovis tree costs the city less, it doesn't have to be trucked in it's already growing in front of city hall.

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