In many ways, finding the tree for Rehoboth Beach’s annual holiday celebration is the easy part. It’s moving the tree that’s the hard part, which is why it takes a dedicated team of professionals, volunteering their time, to make it happen.
The tree-moving team consists of three companies – John L. Briggs & Company, George W. Plummer & Son, and Delmarva Power.
Charles “Reds” Dolson III, and Keith and Kari Long are owners of the Georgetown-based John L. Briggs & Company. The company has been cutting and then transporting the tree for decades.
Dolson said he was asked by Rehoboth Beach businessmen Bob Derrickson and Dominick Pulieri to help move the first tree. He said he still remembers the police escort that accompanied the first tree from Magnolia to Rehoboth.
“We’ve been doing it ever since,” said Dolson. “It’s surprising we’re still doing it.”
Kari said she’s always enjoyed the move; she used to take her and Keith’s daughters out of school for the day.
“When they were little, they thought it was really exciting to be behind the tree, watching it go down Route 1,” she said. “It’s changed a little, but I still have to go every year. It’s the beginning of the holiday season.”
Greg Plummer of Lewes’ George W. Plummer & Son has been operating the crane during the tree removal for as long as he can remember. It’s just something the business has done, he said with a shrug.
“It’s really just another job,” said Plummer. “It’s definitely not as tedious as other jobs.”
At the start of the move, the Plummer crane is used to hold the tree up as the Briggs crew cuts it loose from the stump, and then to lay the tree down on the Briggs trailer.
The Plummer company has four cranes with various load-carrying capabilities; the big 100-ton unit has the ability to move a house. For Rehoboth’s tree, Plummer said, he uses a 50-ton crane. The 100-ton crane is overkill, and it has to be permitted every time it's on the road, he said.
Plummer said the 50-ton crane is also a little easier to drive, which means he can get closer, and not damage residential lawns and roads.
“We’ve got to be nice to the yards. We can’t take a crane too big,” he said, arms extended, rocking back and forth, simulating the blacktop buckling under the weight. “It’s like going crabbing. You don’t take a party boat when a small rowboat will do.”
Rounding out the installation is the team from Delmarva Power, which takes the tree off the Briggs trailer and installs it in the tree holder near the Bandstand.
Timothy Stokes, Delmarva Power senior communications specialist, said line workers from the company’s Millsboro District office have supported the long-standing tradition.
“As a local company, we place a lot of weight on our relationships with the communities we serve. This strong working relationship we have with the City of Rehoboth Beach is just another example of the many ways our employees volunteer their time and give back,” said Stokes, in an email Nov. 5.