Christmas tree returns to Fresno City Hall

FRESNO, Calif.

Not this year. Donations and several volunteers are starting back up the tradition.

Each one of these Fresno city workers volunteered their time to pick, place and decorate this large white fir outside of City Hall Saturday morning.

Getting it here took a Herculean effort. Most of these city workers used a vacation day Friday to travel to Shaver Lake and pick up the fir.

This is what it looked like standing at 130 feet before it was donated by SoCal Edison.

Donations paid for fuel to haul the 1,900 pound fir down the mountain to its new home. The tree has since been cut and trimmed and after some careful maneuvering was lowered 13 feet into the ground. Now it stands 61 feet tall.

The Christmas tree tradition started in 2006 but was put on hold last year because of budget cuts. "I was depressed. I was extremely depressed. I was upset," field mechanic Bob Jensen said.

Jensen approached Mayor Ashley Swearengin in October with a plan to raise money and find enough volunteers to put up the tree without a single tax payer dollar being spent. The mayor agreed.

"Working with fleet management, working for the city for 22 years I know what's involved in getting the tree here. The first time we put it in it was a lot of money but now everything here is donated," Jensen said.

Without the donations and volunteers this undertaking would have cost about $7,5000.

"Most of them have helped with the tree in the past and feel it's a way to bring the community together a little more," said fleet manager Jim Schaad who brought his son along to help out.

8-year-old Jalen McMillan and his family were passing by when volunteers were placing the lights. He said he thought it was really awesome.

Sunday morning even more volunteers are expected to help decorate the tree with ornaments.

On December 3rd a lighting ceremony will be held to spread the joy. "It's a bad economy. There's a lot of people out there that don't have anything. This is their tree," Jensen added.

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