SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Stephen Romano watched from across Evans Street Thursday as the blue spruce he planted more than five decades ago was lassoed by a crane and chainsawed from its stump.
The tree, now 55 feet tall, has been chosen to claim a place of honor across the Casco Bay Bridge in Monument Square, where it will spend the holiday season as the city of Portland’s public Christmas tree.
Romano, 63, grew up in this neighborhood and planted the tree with his father for previous owners of 89 Evans St. when he was younger than 12, he said.
“I’m really glad the city of Portland can enjoy this tree,” Romano said.
Any mixed emotions?
“I’m not a real emotional person,” he said, “but my mother is. She wishes she could be here.”
Romano said he plans to take video of the tree being cut down and stood back up in Monument Square so he can show his mother at the nursing home she’s currently staying at.
Allan Huff, who currently lives at 89 Evans St. with his wife, Lori, was working in his yard when Portland city arborist Jeff Tarling arrived at the property a few weeks ago with an unusual request.
“He said, ‘I want your tree,’ and Allen said, ‘I want you to have it,’” recalled Lori. “Allen didn’t hesitate. It was a win-win.”
Said Tarling: “He said in the last storm, it was leaning quite a bit, and it’s right up against his shed.”
Lori Huff admitted losing the towering spruce from her suburban front yard would change the landscape, but “I’ll figure out what do with that spot.”
In the meantime, she said she’s excited to think that her tree will become one of Maine’s most recognized Christmas trees, standing in the middle of the state’s largest city. Tarling said it will take city workers two days to wrap 1,500 LED lights around the tree, and the annual lighting ceremony, organized by Portland’s Downtown District to include live music and dancing, will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 25.