It may look a little strange in its current form, but the towering cedar sticking out of the middle of a street in Hermiston is expected to draw hundreds of people downtown on Thursday for its official unveiling.
In what has become an annual tradition, the city — with the help of Umatilla Electric Cooperative and their subcontractor Trees, Inc. — dug a six-foot-deep hole in the middle of Northeast Second Street near city hall on Monday morning and placed a roughly 40-foot-tall Christmas tree inside. The tree will be lit up every evening during the holiday season, starting with a tree-lighting festival Thursday. Food vendors and live entertainment will start at 5:30 p.m., with the official lighting and a visit from Santa at 6 p.m. Downtown businesses will also be offering special deals for December’s First Thursday event from 4:30-7 p.m.
This year’s tree comes from Victory Square Park, where parks and recreation director Larry Fetter said it was crowding out a number of smaller trees and needed to be removed.
“It’s a cedar,” he said. “It’s a really nice shape, and it’s got a great color to it.”
Vehicle traffic on Second Street between Gladys Avenue and Main Street will be blocked during the month of December while the tree is in place. In the spring the city plans to begin turning that block into a festival street featuring decorative brickwork, landscaping, lighting and other features.
“I’m hoping construction on the festival plaza is done for next year,” Fetter said. “Looking at the schedule, it looks like it will be, otherwise I’ll have to find a temporary spot for this.”
On Monday morning the tree traveled across town in horizontal position on the back of a UEC truck before arriving in front of city hall, where about six feet of trunk was lowered into the hole in the street and packed in with dirt.
Fetter said the city will be adding extra lighting to the tree and the street surrounding it this year after people commented it could use more. This is the third year the city has placed a giant tree on Second Street.
Contact Jade McDowell at email@example.com or 541-564-4536.