Blue spruce planted decades ago by ex-fire chief, daughter, will be lit in Pittsfield

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PITTSFIELD — About 30 years ago, now-retired Pittsfield Fire Chief James Sullivan's daughter, Christine, brought a blue spruce seedling home from Capeless Elementary School. Together, they planted it in their yard.

On Friday, the tree that now towers at 32 feet will be lit as the city's official Christmas tree at the 73rd tree-lighting ceremony in Park Square, according to Becky Manship, recreation activities coordinator for the city.

"When she brought it home, it was just a twig, really," James Sullivan said when reached by phone Wednesday at his Florida home. "You stick it in the ground 30 years ago, you never think it will grow to be (nearly) 40 feet tall."

Teena Guenther, Paul Askew and their 8-year-old son, who now live at the former home of the Sullivans, donated the tree to the city, Manship said. They are planning to plant a new blue spruce in its place in the spring, Manship said.

Christine Loughlin, 36, gave birth to a daughter the weekend after Thanksgiving, her father said. When Loughlin heard that the tree they planted would be cut down, she was initially disappointed, but her father assured her that it was the best possible end to their tree.

The spruce, her father said, had taken over the front yard of the property where the family lived, and it needed to be removed. It's better that the family tree be celebrated by the city, rather than being chopped into pieces and discarded, Sullivan said.

Christine's brother, Bryan, and sister, Colleen, also planted trees with their father at the family home.

The annual tree-lighting ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. and include carols by the Taconic High School chorus, free hot chocolate provided by Patrick's Pub, and an appearance from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

"We're just asking anyone attending to bring nonperishable food items that will be donated to the Christian Center," Manship said. "The food pantries are often depleted around the holidays."

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at horecchio@berkshireeagle.com, @HavenCCT on Twitter, or 413-770-6977.

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