As the ground at the Bellevue Museum softens up with warmer temperatures this week, Mayor Chris Koch and a cadre of volunteers plan to plant a 12-foot-tall spruce tree donated by Clearwater Landscaping in December for the city's annual holiday tree-lighting ceremony.
"It will be a group effort as usual," Koch said. "Clearwater helped us place it and we surrounded it with straw bales to help keep the moisture in. But, in the middle of winter we weren't getting the snow. I had the guys going by with five-gallon buckets of water because we didn't want to kill it."
Koch said prior to the tree-lighting in December that Bellevue citizens had expressed interest in getting a live tree for the city. The tradition had been to cut a tree each year. The donated spruce will be moved about five feet from its current spot on the south side of the museum where its root ball is bound in burlap.
"There's a rose garden and a World War II monument we don't want to crowd and we need to decide which side of the tree to show," Koch said. "(We want) to make it look like it wasn't just plopped there."
Pat Rainy from Alpine Tree Service will help to plant the tree with Koch, City Councilman Larry Plott and Public Works Administrator George Tanner. Koch said the live tree contributed to a festive holiday celebration that the city hopes to make a tradition that will include hay rides. He said some 300 people attended the event, which included donated coffee and hot chocolate from Sun Valley Co., a show by the Wood River High School robotics club and carolers from the B-Tones, who went door to door singing. The Oak Street Deli stayed open late and hosted a visit by Santa Claus. The 2010 event was a fundraiser for the Bellevue Library.
"Because of the great success that we had, it's going to be an annual event, hopefully, to incorporate more and more businesses within the town," Koch said. "I think it's going to be a great addition to the city."