Evanston seeks Christmas tree donor

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Evanston city officials are searching for anyone willing to donate the perfect Christmas tree for its holiday celebration. (WLS)

Evanston city officials are searching for anyone willing to donate the perfect Christmas tree for its holiday celebration.

While there's not yet any trace of the real stuff, the lighted snowflakes that line the street signal the holiday season is just about here, and city crews are getting the shopping district properly decorated for the holidays. But the centerpiece of it all is missing: Evanston has no Christmas tree for the middle of Fountain Square.

"We've had, in the past, very proud families who had these trees for sometimes generations in their house, on their property, and they're proud to donate it to the city. But no such luck this year," said Wally Bobkiewicz, Evanston City Manager.

The city is looking for a tree that is about 20 feet tall, in good shape on all sides and ready to be the focus of attention in downtown Evanston for the next month. In previous years, an Evanston resident has always come forward to donate a tree they wanted to remove from their property for a variety of reasons. The city removes the tree and sets it up in the middle of the fountain, which is turned off for the season. But so far this year they have come up empty, and the clock is ticking; the tree lighting is scheduled for Dec. 9, and includes special guests like Santa.

Now the city is putting out the call for help.

"We do, we need a tree. That's the bottom line," said Annie Coakley, president of Downtown Evanston.

Evanston is full of mature trees, but the city needs to find one whose owner is willing to part with it. It also needs to be clear of a building or power lines so they can remove it intact, in one piece. So they are expanding their search to nearby surrounding suburbs and even the northeast side of Chicago, hoping to find the perfect tree.

"Do we have a plan b? Well, you know, I think we'll find something," Bobkiewicz said.

This year is the last time Evanston will need a tree; they are renovating the plaza in Fountain Square and beginning in 2017 they will be decorating live trees.
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