Christmas Tree

Steve VanderWeide, left, and Jim Thomas watch as the tree is bound.

Record-Eagle/Tessa Lighty

Dutchman Tree Farms has shipped trees to every state east of the Rocky Mountains. But this year will be the first time they've shipped a 50-foot tree 1,000 miles to Oklahoma.

About a month ago, Claremore City Manager Jim Thomas set out to find the perfect Christmas Tree for his town.

"I'm trying to bring some Christmas magic to Claremore, Oklahoma," said Thomas.

Thomas started kicking the idea around with his staff a while back and decided to make it a reality this year. He traveled to Northwest Michigan and hand selected the 50-foot Norway Spruce from Dutchman Tree Farms.

Many members of the Claremore business community stepped up to help fund the tree project, Thomas said.

Thomas' wife, Kathy Thomas, tagged along for the journey to the north.

"He loves Christmas, he loves Christmas trees, he loves to do things for the community," Kathy Thomas said.

"Christmas is about an experience and the more you invest in it the more important it is," said Steve VanderWeide, founder of Dutchman Tree Farms.

VanderWeide hosted Thomas and his wife at his home during their trip. He was there every step of the way, from the selection process to the first cut, up until the tree was loaded on a truck.

The tree was cut down in no time at all.

It stood massive in a field, half as wide as it was tall. A little bit of maneuvering was all it took before the chainsaw split through the trunk and the tree laid down where it had grown for 35 years.

The hard part came next — making the tree as manageable as possible to travel to Oklahoma. A team of about four workers used tractors to squeeze the tree through a wrapping mechanism. While the tree inched slowly through, men tossed box after box of rope to wind around the tree and secure it tight.

Now the tree will travel the 1,000 miles on the bed of a semi-truck, arriving around November 17. The city will host a tree lighting ceremony on December 4 at 6 p.m. This year's Christmas Village will feature the massive Norway Spruce and 22 smaller trees.

"Nobody in Oklahoma does this," Jim Thomas said. "My goal is to start a tradition."

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