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St. Johns tree to be official state Christmas tree at Michigan State Capitol

A 63-foot tall spruce tree stands outside in front of two houses.
Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget
This 63-foot spruce tree in St. Johns will soon be decorated with Christmas lights and other decorations for this year's Silver Bells in the City celebration in Lansing. The annual event takes place on Nov. 18 at the Michigan State Capitol.

This year’s official state Christmas tree will make its way from Clinton County to the capitol building in Lansing next week.

The 63-foot tree currently sitting outside a St. Johns residence is the first to be selected from Clinton County. It’s the 12th tree from the Lower Peninsula to be given the honor since the tradition started in 1987.

Heath Miller is on the Christmas tree crew for the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB). He told WKAR that finding the right tree can be tricky since they need to be a specific height.

“Throughout the year we search kind of on our own, it’s kind of like a fun task for me and my family,” Miller said, “we enjoy trying to find one that could be a potential candidate.”

Miller said the crew prefers any type of spruce or conifer tree but will occasionally select a fir tree. However, spruce trees are becoming harder to come by.

“They’re very difficult to find and with the diseases that are going around through the trees now a lot of the ones that we've seen in the past, that maybe weren’t quite tall enough or they just started to get filled out in some areas, they are starting to get diseases,” Miller said.

About 90% of the trees that do end up selected are often found en route to see other nominated trees, he said.

Miller had been eyeing the St. Johns spruce for a few years, but waited for the tree to grow to the right height and for the owner’s permission.

“When we were finally able to make contact they were excited to donate the tree for the capitol to be celebrated for the Silver Bells celebration, and so this year we chose to take the tree,” he said.

Mother and daughter, Mary Ann and Caitlin Beck, are business partners and donated the tree. Mary Ann said in a DTMB press release they bought the property this past spring and the previous owner mentioned the state was interested in the tree.

"It's an honor to be able to say our tree is the official state Christmas tree. Caitlin and I are so proud to be a part of this state tradition," Mary Ann Beck said in the release.

The tree will be cut during a harvesting ceremony in St. Johns on Oct. 28 and will be unveiled during Lansing’s annual Silver Bells In the City event on Nov. 18.

Melorie Begay is the local producer and host of Morning Edition.
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