The Christmas tree along the Glenn Highway has a new look this year.

Caretaker Jason Tolstrup took over the duty of lighting up the tree about a decade ago. A few years ago, flooding killed the tree’s roots. When KTVA met up with Tolstrup in 2017, all of the branches were bare.

“It helps that it’s dark you can’t see all the needles that aren’t on it,” he laughed.

Over the summer, it became clear the tree was a goner.

“Branches kept breaking. It had its day,” Tolstrup said. "And it was leaning so hard it was about to fall over.”

He ended up cutting it down a few months ago, which wasn’t an easy task. The lights had become tangled in the branches and it was a careful task to take the tree down.

(Courtesy: Jason Tolstrup)

For Tolstrup, there was also an emotional attachment.

“It was rough to be honest. I didn’t like that much but it had to be done,” he said.

He plans to use the wood from the fallen spruce to make ornaments paying homage to the tree.

There’s now a new metal tree anchored into the leftover stump.

Initially, Tolstrup hoped to transplant a live tree but the logistics were too complicated on such short notice. His father instead got a frame from a friend and they went to work getting it decked for the holidays.

(Courtesy: Jason Tolstrup)

It took weeks of work to repair, add to the frame and make sure the strands stay lit.

“All these lights worked when we tested them in the garage and after we put them out there were three strands out. Had to unwrap it and redo it,” Tolstrup said.

He calls the tree a labor of love.

“A lot of the time I work nights so when I come by and it’s on it puts a smile on my face,” he said.

Commuters love it too. There was no shortage of honking horns as Tolstrup worked on the tree the week before Thanksgiving. He’ll light the tree up with his family after their Thanksgiving dinner. The lights will stay up through the New Year.

 

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