Basking Ridge's annual Christmas tree, a 30-foot blue spruce donated by John and Susan Hume, was cut down at about 8:30 a.m. on Saturday at 112 Governor Drive. Volunteer members of the Basking Ridge Fire Company coordinated the entire operation.
It was then loaded onto a crane truck loaned by H.W. Alward and transported to the center of town. After some minor trimming of the trunk, the tree was set in place to be decorated with lights and a star.
A ladder truck from the Veterans Administration facility in Lyons, and two bucket trucks — one from the Bernards Township and one loaned from Glenn Miller Electrical Contracting — were used to put the decorations in place.
Jimmy DeCoste, who had organized the event for 47 years, said the placement of the large tree in the center of town has been an annual ritual for much longer, maybe 70 to 75 years.
On Christmas Eve, residents from the town gather around the tree to sing Christmas carols, another longtime holiday tradition.
The Humes later came to see their tree as it stood in place, where it will remain until some time in January.
"It's nice to have it put to a good use. It's beautiful," John Hume said.
The Humes said the tree already was planted when they purchased their home 10 years ago, but had grown so large that the roots had begun pushing up under the driveway. John Hume said a local landscaper, Arley Ramirez, had suggested donating the tree rather than just cutting it down.
"Blue spruces are always the best tree," said DeCoste.
Susan Hume agreed that the tree looked beautiful in its now-starring role in front of The Presbyterian Church of Basking Ridge. When she was little, she said her father had sold Christmas trees.
The day was full of holiday greenery, since the Boy Scouts from Liberty Corner were less than a block away, selling wreaths at the gazebo off Allen Street.
Meanwhile, Bishop Janes United Methodist Church began its own annual Christmas tree sale across the street on South Finley Ave. The fundraising sale will continue daily through Dec. 24, or whenever the supply of evergreens run out.
Linda Sadlouskos contributed to this story.