Sprucing up for the holidays

NASHUA – It’s an appropriate message for the upcoming holiday season: Good things come in small packages.

The impressive Colorado blue spruce trees that will sparkle with holiday lights downtown and at Greeley Park started as small seedlings in the backyards of two local families.

On Monday, a large flatbed truck carted the sweet-smelling evergreens – which were donated to the city – to their places of honor in Railroad Square and at the North End park.

The city celebrates the Winter Holiday Stroll, the biggest of the annual downtown festivals, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and the Railroad Square tree is always a big draw.

“Every child, and even adult, looks forward to the tree-lighting ceremony. It really adds to the atmosphere,” said John Mitterholzer, the executive director of Great American Downtown, which hosts the event that fills Main Street with music and entertainment for the evening.

The Railroad Square evergreen came from the home of Bea and Paul Gagne, of 40 Tampa St. Lights should encircle the tree by the end of the week.

After installing the first tree, a crew from the Parks and Recreation Department along with Herman Stickney, the owner of Pioneer Tree Service of Hollis, went to cut a tree that towered over the roof of a Cape-style home at 10 Wason Ave.

With a camera in hand, tree donor Henry Lachance took the last pictures of the tall evergreen outside his house.

“It dressed up the place,” Lachance said.

“Someone’s going to get some enjoyment out of it. We did,” Lachance said as the convoy left his home for Greeley Park with the tree cradled on sawhorses.

The 72-year-old got the tree from his father, who first planted it behind the family’s old home on Whitney Street. The seedling came from Hammar Hardware in the city, a store that has since relocated to Merrimack.

The small tree only reached the knees of the retired postal worker when he had the Wason Avenue house built in the early 1960s. For a time, the Lachance family adorned the tree with Christmas lights, before it got too tall.

Nesting birds found a haven in its branches. Lachance said he often had to shut chirping birds in the tree.

The evergreen, its needles tinged blue-green, measures close to 40 feet. It took four men to grapple the tree to the curbside as Stickney’s hoist guided it from above. Stickney charges the city half of his usual fee to remove the two trees.

The buzz of a chainsaw and a wood chipper filled the air. Bob Guidaboni, a Park and Recreation employee, crawled under the tree to get at its trunk with a chainsaw.

“It smells nice,” said Guidaboni, who decorates his home with a tree for the Christmas season, though nothing as large as the tree outside Lachance’s house.

“It’s the Christmas spirit,” he said. “I have two little ones.”