Elmhurst family donates Chicago's 105th Christmas tree

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago has selected its 105th Christmas tree. A 60-foot Norway Spruce was donated by Deborah Orth and her family from west suburban Elmhurst.

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Chicago selects a 60-foot Norway Spruce from Elmhurst as its 105th Christmas tree.

Orth said she felt some doubt, at first, about donating her family's tree.

"The first wave was, 'Oh no, what have I done? Do I really want to do this?' And then two seconds later it was like, 'Yes, I really want to do this,'" she said.

The Orth family's tree was chosen out of 79 submissions received by Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

"The criteria is really that it has to be at least 55 ft. tall and within 100 mile-radius of the city center. We look at, obviously, height and shape and color. This is a really beautiful tree, so we're excited," DCASE Deputy Commissioner of Programming Erin Harkey said.

The spruce has stood on the scenic street since the family's home was built in 1949.

"I thought this was a great way for the tree to go out. It's been a great tree for us, providing a lot of shelter from the wind, sun and headlights. Now it gets to be lit up and enjoyed by so many," Orth said.

For years, Daley Plaza was the backdrop for the city's tree. But that ended in 2014. The last Chicago Christmas tree displayed in the plaza was donated by Donna Atkinson from northwest suburban Elgin.

"You don't realize how many people are involved, how big a deal it is. You get down there and there are mobs of people for the tree lighting. It's a really cool thing. It's fun," Atkinson said.

Now the city's tree is displayed at Millennium Park. The tree, which weighs around 8,000, was cut down in Elmhurst Thursday morning. It will be delivered to Millennium Park on Friday and decorated with around 30,000 lights, just in time for the 105th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on Nov. 16.

The Orth family will join Santa Claus and other guests to light the tree. The free event will begin at 6 p.m. The tree will be lit around 6:30 p.m.

"We'll be there on the 16th with friends and family. The neighborhood is talking about coming, so it will be a big celebration," Orth said.

Although her family will miss the spruce, it's not completely gone.

"They gave me a little piece, so you can turn it into an end table or stool or something like that. So we'll have a little piece of the tree forever," Orth said.
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