St. Peters, Mo. — St. Louis-area residents who view the lavishly-decorated Christmas tree in front of the Governor’s mansion in Jefferson City this season have something to be especially proud of. They’re viewing one of their own.
After a statewide search, a 36-foot tall Colorado spruce (Picea pungens) from the St. Louis area was selected as the Christmas tree to display in front Missouri’s first residence. The tree belongs to St. Peters residents Floetta and Jose Carrera. The couple donated the tree from their front yard, which was cut and transported to the Show-Me-State’s capitol city Nov. 27.
It’s a long-standing annual tradition for the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) to supply the official Christmas tree displayed in front of the Governor’s mansion. Each summer, the agency issues a state-wide call for interested property and homeowners to nominate a tree from their property, usually one that needs to be removed for home expansion or utility work. The owner must be willing to donate the tree at no cost to the state or MDC.
MDC Forestry staff reviews all entries and selects the winning tree. The candidates are evaluated based on species, appearance, quality and accessibility for removal. The winning tree is then cut and removed by MDC at no charge to the owner and delivered to Jefferson City.
“I was reading Mid Rivers Newsmagazine when I saw the article about donating a Christmas tree for the governor’s mansion,” said Floetta, age 76. “I thought this was the perfect chance.”
According to the Carreras, they wanted to have the tree removed within the next couple of years anyway, feeling it had grown too big for their yard. The couple has lived at their current home on Jane Drive in St. Peters for 20 years. The tree was already there when they moved in.
“I used to decorate it every year myself,” said Jose, age 78, “but it eventually got so big I couldn’t even do it with an extension ladder. That’s when I stopped.”
According to Jose, the tree was about seven feet tall when they bought the home.
The Carreras were present during the tree’s removal Wednesday morning and offered interviews to several members from the media who were covering the event. The morning was clear and cold, and friends and neighbors from the surrounding homes gathered around to watch and take pictures.
“I don’t know what the house will look like without that tree,” commented Floetta.
The MDC removal crew tied the tree upright to the arm of a bucket truck, cut the trunk with a chainsaw, then lifted it using the arm and placed on its side in a large trailer before departing for Jefferson City. Jeff Petty of MDC’s Design and Development Division was in charge of the tree’s removal. He said the procedure went well and there were no major obstacles in cutting or loading.
Before the truck drove away, Jose surveyed the stump where their large Colorado spruce had stood a half hour before. “We can finally see the neighbors now,” he said.
The tree will be erected at the Governor’s mansion and decorated the first week of December, after which there will be an official lighting. The Carrera’s indicated they plan to make a trip to Jefferson City during the holiday season to see their tree.