A family’s Christmas tree has been taken, but the Grinch isn’t the culprit and it’s not being stashed away in the cliffs above Whoville. This tree is being relocated, quite willingly, to the Governor’s Mansion in Jefferson City.
The Lenox family’s Norway Spruce – a gargantuan green monster that stood taller than the family’s two-story house in Eureka – was cut down Monday, Nov. 24, bundled onto a flatbed truck and shipped to the state capitol.
“We planted it 14 to 15 years ago,” Paul Lenox said. “It was probably 3 feet or 4 feet tall when we planted it.”
At the time, the family never dreamed that their tree one day would become the state’s official Christmas tree.
The tree was selected through a yearly search conducted by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
“It’s a long-standing annual tradition for MDC to supply the official holiday tree displayed in front of the Governor’s Mansion,” Media Specialist Dan Zarlenga explained.
Each fall, MDC issues a state-wide call for interested property and homeowners to nominate a tree from their property, perhaps one that needs to be removed for home expansion or utility work. The owner must be willing to donate the tree at no cost to the state or the department.
State forestry staff review all entries and select the winning tree, which is removed at no charge to the owner and delivered to Jefferson City.
After unwrapping some of the Christmas tree lights tangled in the spruce’s branches, MDC workers used a chainsaw to cut their way through the tangle of growth around the tree’s trunk. Once an opening had been made, one worker climbed the tree and attached it with a thick strap to a truck-mounted crane. The trunk then was cut with the chainsaw, and the spruce gently laid upon a flatbed truck. The tree was then transported to a nearby parking lot, where it was transferred to a bigger truck and packaged for its trip to Jefferson City.
Beth Lenox said she, her husband and their two kids, Madeleine and Noah, plan on taking a trip to the Governor’s Mansion to see their spruce “in all its glory.”
“It’s bittersweet,” she said. “It’s been here for a long time.”
Paul said his family had often used the tree as a backdrop in family photos for Christmas cards. Donna Vogt, his next-door neighbor, said she had done the same for events with her children.
“It was always the tree we’d use for a background for pictures,” Vogt said. “We’d just say, ‘stand in front of the tree.’”
The kids always knew what tree was “the tree.”
Dianne Darlington, another one of the Lenox’s neighbors, said the cutting of the tree was “surreal.”
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Darlington said. To Vogt, she added, “Oh my gosh, you’ve got a view now!”
In 2013, the winning tree was supplied by a resident in nearby St. Peters.