Drought Impacts New Haven's Search for Holiday Tree

Over the next month, the holiday tree standing tall on the New Haven Green will be decorated with 30,000 lights.

“We try to identify somebody to donate a tree,” New Haven Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees Director Rebecca Bombero said.

This year’s search for the right tree was complicated by the severe drought in New Haven County and most of the state.

“Other trees that we tried to tie up for this were not bending properly and the branches were snapping like basically like match sticks,” Urban Forrester Fernando Lage said.

Bombero said she thought she found this year’s holiday tree at a home in East Haven.

“Unfortunately, it succumbed to the drought,” she explained, “so this last week we made a pivot to our backup plan here at the Alling Memorial Golf Course.”

Monday morning on the golf course, the parks and rec crew finished tying branches on the well-watered, 65-foot Norway spruce before it was cut, lowered on a flatbed and transported to downtown New Haven.

“This tree is obviously very lush and green,” Lage said. “The pine cones are very big which is another indication that it is healthy and thriving.”

Now, this tree will thrive as the centerpiece of celebrating the holiday season in the Elm City

“We do replace the trees that we cut,” Bombero said. “You’ll see a couple others here on the golf course from previous years’ plantings.”

The city still plans to remove the tree from the East Haven homes. Any healthy branches they salvage will be used to help fill-in the city’s holiday tree.

Mayor Toni Harp said the tree is connected to the city’s kindness initiatives. For example, a Toys for Tots drive gets underway at the tree lighting.

NBC Connecticut is a proud media sponsor of the New Haven Holiday Tree Lighting. You can watch it live on Thursday Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.

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