This week, a Norway spruce planted in 1931 was cut down in the prime of its life. It was loaded onto a truck in Mifflinville, Pennsylvania and sent east to New York City, where it arrived on Friday. On November 30, it will be covered in 30,000 LEDs and take its place as the latest in a long line of majestic Christmas trees, each the most famous of its day. The poor tree!
With the headline "Slain Tree Carcass Being Dragged To Rock Center For Celebration," Gothamist captured the sentiment of those who hate seeing beautiful trees cut down. The problem is that it feels wrong to complain about this. What would Christmas in New York be without the Rockefeller Center tree? As it turns out, there's a way to have a tree without killing it.In a 2009 op-ed in the New York Times, John Duvall proposed transplanting a live tree to Rockefeller Center every year, and sending it home in January. If it sounds impossible or unprecedented, it's not; from 1942 to 1945, living trees were used, and replanted where they came from once their term was served.
Duvall points out that transplanting a live tree is trickier than moving a dead one, but that it's by no means impossible:
It is not necessary to separate a tree from its roots to deliver it safely to Manhattan. True, it is logistically harder and more expensive to transport live trees because the branches can’t be bound as tightly and the roots take up more room. But experts often move wonderful specimens, and if we could do it in the 1940s, we can do it today.
As Gothamist's video of the tree being cut down shows, residents of Mifflinville are enthusiastic and proud to see one of their own move to the Big Apple. But wouldn't it be nicer for them to get their heroic tree back alive and well, rather than gaze proudly at the stump of the glory it once was?
Follow Alex on Twitter.