SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — A towering holiday landmark in downtown Sioux Falls will soon be facing a chainsaw crew. The 50-foot pine located on Minnesota Avenue has served as a brightly-decorated Christmas tree since the early 1990’s. But time has caught up with the decades-old tree which will be cut-down later this month. But this won’t be the end to ‘Dorothy’s Tree.’
Members are trimming the shrubbery in front of First United Methodist Church in downtown Sioux Falls. But a much bigger landscaping project awaits the church.
“The tree itself has kind of outlived its natural life and so we’ve had it for years beyond we expected we would,” said Pastor Sara Nelson of First United Methodist Church.
This 50-foot pine, located in the church parking lot, has been dying and losing branches. The church has decided to cut it down, based upon arborists’ recommendations, so it’s not a safety hazard.
“It’s bittersweet to see it go. It’s been a longstanding tradition that’s meant a lot to people over the years,” Nelson said.
Decorating the tree has been a downtown holiday tradition for more than 30 years. It started with Dale Weir as a gift to his wife Dorothy all those years ago.
“She said you always ask what I want for Christmas. ‘I want you to decorate that tree.’ I said what? She said, ‘I want you to decorate that 50-foot tree there,'” Weir told KELOLAND News in 2003.
But downtown Sioux Falls won’t be without a big Christmas tree for long. This is where a concrete base is going in on the east side of the church parking lot where a 40-foot high artificial tree will go, just feet away from the old tree.
“And so it will be visible from Minnesota Avenue and I think it will just continue that legacy of being a beacon of light and hope to the community,” Nelson said.”
And while many people will be saddened to see the old tree removed, Nelson thinks its replacement would meet Dorothy’s approval.
“I think that she would be pleased to know that we’re continuing this tradition in honor of her,” Nelson said.
First United Methodist will host a Celebration of Life for the old tree on Sunday, November 12, at 1:30 p.m. A lighting ceremony and dedication for the new tree, called “Dorothy’s Tree Of Hope,” will be held Sunday, November 26, at 6 p.m.