The Basking Ridge Fire Co. thought that this year's choice for a donated holiday tree to decorate Basking Ridge center was all wrapped up — even with a backup nominee — before Halloween arrived.
Then Hurricane Sandy came to town.
"Two trees were picked out. One went over and was too broken up, and the other had branches come off," said Todd Middleton, in charge of the fire company's holiday decorating committee.
For decades, a large evergreen donated by a local resident has been placed and decorated in the center of downtown Basking Ridge. The fire company had taken on responsibility for selecting one of the trees offered, and transporting it to the center of town.
Middleton that he himself inspects the trees that people are offering. He said the final selection is removed and transported to the center of town on the Saturday following Thanksgiving.
Now, less than two weeks before Thanksgiving, he said that the fire company is back to looking for a tree for this year.
The ideal candidate is a well-rounded evergreen at least 30 feet high, one that isn't mishappen from growing too close to a house or for another reason, Middleton said.
The tree should be from Bernards Township or very nearby, so the fire company doesn't have to transport it very far, he added.
But he acknowledged that with so many storm-damaged trees in the area, this year's holiday tree may end up not quite being the ideal choice.
"Worst come to worse," Middleton said the fire company will select the already-nominated tree with some missing branches — a not uncommon site around town these days. He said the fire company even will consider a large tree that's been knocked over but not damaged very much.
Those who wish to offer a tree for donation should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 908-766-9261, and leave a message.