Christmas in March? City finally removes tree fixture

The Tree of Life is shown this week.

Valentine’s Day already passed, and Easter is around the corner. Yet, the Tree of Life light fixture – one of downtown Hollister’s mainstays during the Christmas holiday season – remained standing this week and glowing throughout the nights outside the Veterans Memorial Building.

On Wednesday morning, city crews and volunteers finally had the annual display taken down with the help of equipment that was in need of repairs before doing the job.

That tree fixture – a large steel pipe with lights wrapped in the cone shape of a tree – comes from Hospice of the Central Coast. Throughout the holiday season, residents could make a donation to the Hospice Foundation and name a light in honor or in memory of someone.

The city has accepted the responsibility, though, of putting it up and taking it down. The city also takes on the additional electricity costs at the Hollister-owned Veterans Memorial Building property where the tree stands, the city manager confirmed.

While City Manager Clint Quilter didn’t have any figures available this week related to those electricity costs, he said the Tree of Life’s lights are on a timer keeping them on through each night.

This year, the Tree of Life was initially lit shortly before the Lights On Celebration on Thanksgiving weekend.

City officials said the delay in taking down the fixture was caused by several factors – namely, scheduling issues with a company that volunteers to handle the pipe installation and removal, and repairs being needed to the city and county bucket trucks necessary for light removal, Community Services Director Clay Lee said.

“We want to get it out of the ground and get it out of there since the season is over now,” Lee said before the removal.

Lee said the city’s bucket truck was in a Stockton repair shop for about three weeks, but was just returned. He mentioned the county’s bucket truck happened to be in disrepair at the same time, too.

Quilter noted that the city had no other available options for the light removal – he said a fire truck ladder wouldn’t work – and that officials chose not to spend money on a rental vehicle.

It doesn’t appear, though, that the delay this year will affect whether Hollister handles future Tree of Life logistics.

“I assume we will,” Quilter said.

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