Jerry and Linda Rathmanner said goodbye to an old friend.
Their atlas cedar was only 18 years old, but they had it since they planted it as a sapling at the corner of Seagull Drive and Ocean View Boulevard in Lewes.
The couple donated the nearly 40-foot-tall tree to the city to serve as this year’s official Christmas tree.
The Rathmanners and their neighbors in Pilottown Village threw a breakfasttime party to watch as a crew from Sussex Tree cut it down Nov. 17.
“We’re proud to donate our tree to the City of Lewes,” Linda said.
The Sussex Tree crew used a chainsaw to slice through the trunk. They carefully tied ropes around it and lifted it onto a flatbed for the one-and-a-half-mile journey to downtown.
“There’s a certain way we have to cut it so it fits into the tube that’s in the ground so it stabilizes,” said Ryan Simms of Sussex Tree.
Simms said it’s an honor for Sussex Tree to cut down the Lewes tree every year.
Once the cedar was on the truck, the crew made the trek down Pilottown Road at a snail’s pace.
The tree made it around the tight turn at Front Street and Savannah Road, and continued on to Zwaanendael Park.
Then the process began to put it up and make it ready to be the centerpiece of the city’s Christmas celebration.
The crew lifted the tree with a crane and, after some last-minute trimming of the trunk, gently placed it into the tube at the base.
City maintenance workers will decorate it and have it looking festive for the tree-lighting ceremony Saturday, Dec. 2, after the Lewes Christmas parade.
One might think the corner of Seagull Drive and Ocean View Boulevard will never look the same, but Jerry said he might plant a new tree in the same spot in hopes it will grow to be just as big and beautiful someday.