, Salem, MA

December 3, 2013

Tree cheers

Homegrown blue spruce takes root in Danvers Square


---- — DANVERS — For more than two decades, North Street resident John Ferguson, who is in his early 90s, and his longtime neighbor, George McCann, have watched the towering blue spruce that divides their properties grow to maturity.

McCann, who has lived next to Ferguson for 26 years, said his neighbor has been trying for the past decade to donate the tree so it could become the town’s Christmas tree.

Yesterday morning, Ferguson’s Christmas wish became reality as town crews hoisted the 30-foot tree into place on the median strip that contains the town flagpole, a spot adjacent to CVS Pharmacy in Danvers Square.

It took about an hour for the tree to make the more than 3-mile journey from North Street. Motorists on North and Locust streets were greeted with the sight of a large, lumbering tree carried on its side on a trailer, towed by a DPW dump truck and accompanied by a police escort.

Along the way, DPW Forestry Division tree climber Travis Reardon and equipment operator Mike Freeman, both of Danvers, rode in the back of the truck and used yellow poles to gingerly lift wires out of the way.

Ferguson, who has lived in his home for 50 years and is the house’s original owner, said he went to Town Hall and asked if he could donate the tree.

“I’m sorry to lose it but happy it’s going to be used by the town to celebrate the holiday season,” he said.

With the Christmas tree traveling about 5 mph and making frequent stops to clear wires, many motorists stuck behind it sought to find shortcuts around the procession. When the tree finally turned down Maple Street and headed toward its spot in the square, passers-by pulled out their cellphones or took out cameras to capture the moment. McCann was on hand in Danvers Square to get photos of the tree being lowered into place.

A crane supplied by H.J. Blanchard and Sons Riggers of Danvers hoisted the tree into place. When the tree was lowered into place, its lower branches brushed the sidewalk, prompting Reardon to grab a chainsaw to trim some of them and shape the trunk so it could fit the hole.

Forestry Division foreman Brian Richard said the hauling of the tree went smoothly this year. The Danvers Electric Division was also on hand to help secure the tree with guy wires and to string lights.

“It’s been a really good move, a nice, coordinated effort between all the departments in town,” Richard said.

The tree is scheduled to be lit by Santa during the 15th annual Danvers Holiday Festival on Saturday. The festival runs from 2 to 5 p.m., and Santa will light the tree at 5 p.m.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.