CLARK, NJ — As the blue spruce sitting in his front lawn shot up to about 30 feet tall, casting a shadow over his one-story Clark home, Michael Mignone realized he wasn’t going to be able to keep decorating it as he had in years past.
“It got to be too tall. One year I took a dive off the ladder trying to decorate the tree. I said maybe that’s enough of the decorations,” said Mignone. “The last couple of years I’ve been decorating the bottom, though, with just lights, wrapping 30 sets around the bottom, and put some presents out here.”
The blue spruce has grown substantially in the 15 years since Mignone bought his home in Clark, when it first measured around 7- or 8-feet-tall, he said. But this year, everyone in the area will be able to appreciate the eye-catching tree at the Union County Courthouse, where Mignone donated it to serve as the county’s official Christmas tree for 2015.
Township employees came to Mignone’s home on Monday, Dec. 7, set the tree in a sling, cut the trunk with a power saw and then lifted the tree onto a flatbed before moving the 30-year-old blue spruce to Elizabeth, where the public is invited to view the tree on weekdays through the end of December.
It wasn’t a possibility Mignone had considered until, earlier this year, a next-door neighbor told him that the county might be interested in displaying the tree. Mignone replied that, if he was contacted, he’d happily donate it.
“We said we would. It would be a nice thing to do, we’re very much into the holiday and Christmas spirit, so sure. Next thing you know, everyone’s out here,” said Mignone. “We used to decorate it out here every holiday season, with lights and ornaments, and then the tree just continued to grow and grow and grow. It got to be crazy.”
Displaying a locally grown tree in the rotunda of the Union County Courthouse is a decades-old tradition around Christmas time, with other recent trees being gifted by households from Kenilworth, Roselle and, last year, another family from Clark.
Since 1956, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders has put on a production of “Christmas Carol Sing-a-long Around the Rotunda Christmas Tree” on Dec. 24, which falls on a Thursday this year.