OLIVER SPRINGS (WATE) - The official state Christmas tree was on it's way to Nashville Friday night, and it came from right here in East Tennessee.
The story of this year's state Christmas tree dates back several decades.
It was initially part of a Christmas tree research project done at University of Tennessee's research center in the Cumberland Forest. During that project, it stood on top of an abandoned strip mine until 1985.It was then dug up and transplanted at the ranger headquarters.
Fast forward a few more decades, and it seemed the tree might have a new calling when the state capitol's Christmas tree was knocked down.
"There was actually a windstorm in Nashville that broke the original tree, so the urgent call was given out to find a quick replacement," said Forest Manager Martin Schubert.
Ultimately, a different tree was chosen, and the 50-foot Norway spruce remained in place. That is, until earlier this year when Schubert resubmitted it for consideration to be this year's tree.
"They came out and looked at the tree, and they selected the tree as good form quality, and so they thought it would represent the state well," said Schubert.
Director Emeritus of the Cumberland Forest Richard Evans, who has seen the tree grow over the years, was there to watch it carefully come down.
"This tree has had it's life here and needs to go for reasons to clear that site for other research. So to put it to this use is a great thing," said Evans.
The tree was secured on a trailer and escorted to Nashville where it will be on display throughout the holiday season.
Gov. Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam will light the tree at 5 p.m. on Monday, December 2 at the Legislative Plaza in Nashville.
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