Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Everything Evanston: Behind the boba in downtown Evanston

O Tannenbaum

It takes Mark Younger almost two months to find the perfect Christmas tree.

Younger, an arborist for the Evanston Department of Parks/Forestry and Recreation, will join a team of inspectors from the department in a quest for an evergreen worthy to be the city’s holiday tree. It will be displayed in Fountain Square on the corner of Davis Street and Orrington Avenue. But a tree from a lot won’t do for Evanston. The symbol of cheer will come from a resident’s yard.

In mid-November the tree will come down, ride to Fountain Square while taking up about three lanes of traffic, and be lowered into place by a crane, Younger said. EVMark, an organization that promotes business downtown, will hold the tree lighting ceremony on Nov. 22 to kick off the holiday season.

Meanwhile, the need for a stately arbor means residents can have an overgrown tree removed for free. Officials from the parks department also grind down the stump and reseed the area. People can recommend their trees by calling the parks department at (847) 866-2900.

How do city officials pick a tree? Trees just needs to follow size guidelines, said Paul D’Agostino, superintendent of the parks department. The evergreen – spruces and firs tend to work best – must be at least 25 feet tall with a base diameter of 15 feet. Previous trees have towered as high as 40 to 45 feet, D’Agostino said. The real trick, he said, is finding a tree with a full base.

“Usually the ones that really aren’t suitable are right against somebody’s house,” he said. “If we cut it down, there would be a big bare spot where it was against the house.”

D’Agostino said normally the city finds about six applicants, so the team takes whichever tree fits the basic dimensions. Some years city officials find more than one suitable tree, and they hold those not selected for the next year.

But this year there are no backups and lots of options. Since an article about the tree search ran in the Chicago Tribune Sept. 18, the department has heard from four times the normal number of hopefuls.

The city even had calls from residents of Glencoe and Highland Park about this year’s tree, but Younger said the selection team turns to Evanston trees first. He said it’s easier for the city to move nearby trees, and the local history behind the trees makes the tradition special.

Jim, 69, and Lilly Drummond, 63, the owners of the 2004 Christmas tree, submitted their blue spruce because they feared the wind would knock over the tree, Lilly said. But parting was still difficult.

“It’s really like getting rid of a pet,” Lilly said. “We didn’t want to cut it down because we loved it so much. Donating it was a great idea.”

The tree already sat in front of the couple’s home, then a few feet tall, when they moved into their home in 1968. Family photos show the tree growing in the background behind their children. When the their son Iain visited, he went to see the spruce lit up in Fountain Square, covered in decorations, Lilly said.

“It was beautiful,” she said. “It went out in glory.”

Reach Elizabeth Gibson at [email protected]

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
O Tannenbaum