Briggs team hands off Rehoboth Christmas tree-moving reins

Georgetown-based company had helped with city’s tree lighting since 1980s
November 11, 2022

Story Location:
Rehoboth Beach Bandstand
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
United States

Weather permitting, about this time next week, a crew from Rehoboth Beach’s Streets Department will be stringing thousands of holiday lights on a 20-year-old, 30-foot-tall green giant arborvitae in anticipation of the city’s annual tree lighting and sing-along the following week.

The city has hosted the event since the 1980s, and this year will be the first time in the event’s existence that the crew from Georgetown-based John L. Briggs & Co. won’t be part of the team to cut down and transport the donated tree to the bandstand. The city indicated there had been a change in a press release announcing that Dean and Debbie Smith, who live outside Rehoboth, had donated this year’s tree.

There’s no doubt the tree lighting and sing-along is a fun family event, and under the right conditions, it brings thousands of people to the bandstand. However, for my money, the most interesting part is watching the tree get trimmed up, cut loose, hooked up, lifted, loaded onto a flatbed and then shipped to its final resting place at the bandstand.

I spoke with Briggs owner Keith Long recently about why, after nearly four decades, his crew decided to hand off the tree-shipping reins to Harry Caswell.

“We’re all getting up there in age. There’s a lot of lugging and tugging associated with this project,” said Keith. “Harry’s a good friend and he’s got quite the workforce. He’s pretty excited to be doing it.”

Keith, who has been helping for about 15 years, is married to Kari, daughter of Charles “Reds” Dolson III. Dolson, an owner of Briggs, was asked by Rehoboth Beach businessmen Bob Derrickson and Dominick Pulieri to help move the first tree.

In my years covering the tree moving, Reds has always been there to keep a watchful eye on the process. In an interview from 2020, Reds said he could still remember the police escort that accompanied the first tree as it made its way from Magnolia to Rehoboth.

“We’ve been doing it ever since. It’s surprising we’re still doing it,” said Reds at the time.

The Briggs team didn’t move the tree alone – George W. Plummer & Son and Delmarva Power helped with the crane work – but it was their dump truck and flatbed that navigated the roads and other vehicles with a large tree ratcheted down on top. To secure the tree during the move, a special cradle was built and stored at Briggs’ Georgetown office. It was brought out once a year.

Keith said he gave the cradle to Harry a few weeks ago and helped him set it up on his trailer.

“Harry was there last year watching, so he knows how it goes. We’ve also gone over everything with him. We’re all good friends and we’ve passed it on to the best possible replacement,” Keith said.

Old traditions die hard, and Keith said he, Kari and Reds plan to be on hand to watch as this year’s tree is cut down and moved.

“It’s a neat thing to be a part of, so it’s hard to totally give it up,” Keith said.

Joke of the Week:

No funny-to-me anecdote about where this week’s joke came from. It’s a simple reader submission from reader Teressa, and I thought it was funny. I also want to encourage submissions because it makes my life easier. As always, send jokes to  

Person 1: If Pete and Repeat were sitting in a boat and Pete fell out, who's left in the boat?

Person 2: Repeat

Person 1: If Pete and Repeat were sitting in a boat and Pete fell out, who's left in the boat?

Person 2: Repeat …


  • Chris Flood has lived in or visited family in Delaware his whole life. He grew up in Maine, but a block of scrapple was always in the freezer of his parents’ house during his childhood. Contact him at

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