Rehoboth kicks off the holiday season with its annual tree lighting and singalong Friday, Nov. 23, and this year Patricia and Paul Romaine will be the stars of the show because it will be their tree being lit.
“We couldn’t believe we were picked,” said Patricia. “We were told the city received 21 submissions this year.”
The couple, married for 51 years, moved to the Chapel Green neighborhood near Love Creek 18 years ago, planting three of the evergreens shortly afterward. A number of years later, the tree being donated to the city is the only one standing.
Patricia said she isn’t sure why the soon-to-be-donated tree survived and the other two didn’t, but she said since it did she’s given it extra attention.
“It just survived,” she said, tearing up. “It’s so pretty. I drive by the tree when pulling into my driveway, and I say, ‘Hello, beautiful.’”
The Romaines attempted to donate the tree a couple of years ago, and the city went as far as coming out to survey it. Paul said there was a large pear tree in the front yard, though, and they were told a crane wouldn’t have been able to get at it.
The pear tree came down recently, Patricia said, so the couple decided to try the donation again.
Paul said Maryland-based Mark Ferro Tree Services has been pruning the tree annually to keep the shape, but it is starting to become a safety hazard. He said the house’s sewer line runs near the tree’s root system and it’s beginning to take up all the space between their house and the neighbors’.
Paul said Patricia always joked about hiring someone to come decorate the tree so the couple could host a big holiday party.
“Now, guess what, it’s going to be decorated and thousands of people get to enjoy it,” said Paul.
Paul said it will be hard to see the tree go, but having it be part of Rehoboth’s holiday celebration is much better than the alternative – having it come down unexpectedly and then watching it get put through the chipper.
“At least this way everybody gets to enjoy it,” he said.
The city is expected to take the tree down Friday, Nov. 16. Patricia said she, her husband and some neighborhood friends will throw it a going-away party beforehand. She said she doesn’t know if she’ll be there the day the city cuts the tree down.
“I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle watching it come down,” she said. “But I can’t wait to see it be lit up either.”