Tippy tannenbaum trussed up for the holidays

Belfast's broke-neck Christmas tree arrives in one piece

By Ethan Andrews | Nov 29, 2018
Photo by: Ethan Andrews Dan Miller of Belmont Boatworks, gesturing, assesses Belfast's Christmas tree at a farm on Marsh Road Nov. 29 after a miscalculation that left it in two pieces.

Belfast — In a snowy field on Poors Mill Road late Thursday morning, a small crew, including Dan Miller of Belmont Boat Works and City Councilor Mike Hurley, surveyed the city's Christmas tree, which had just broken in two.

"We'll have to splint it," Hurley said.

Moments earlier, the large fir had been upright, attached to Miller's crane truck and poised to be cut, then transported to Post Office Square for Belfast's Christmas festivities. Last year's tree came from a farm in Belmont. When it was cut, it swung gracefully away from its stump, appearing to levitate above the ground as it hung from the crane's cable.

This year, instead of floating, the tree went top-heavy and tipped over. With most of its weight still dangling from the crane, it flipped like a bicyclist hitting an open car door and face-planted in the field with a crunch.

The tumble snapped the trunk, five feet from the top. The smaller piece resembled a living room-sized Christmas tree, but in context prompted a weary comment about Charlie Brown's famously pathetic pine.

Several hours later, and one block from Belfast's own famously pathetic Christmas decoration — a molded-plastic light known locally as "Broke-neck Santa" — the crew installed the tree in Post Office Square. Miraculously, it was whole again and showed no signs of ever being broken.

Reached by phone, Hurley confirmed that it wasn't a miracle.

"Spliced it like a broken leg," he said. "Two big pieces of pipe and a bunch of zip ties."

Belfast's Christmas tree-lighting festivities in Post Office Square start at 4:30 p.m. this Saturday, Dec. 1. The ceremony, with a scheduled visit from Santa, falls in the middle of a weekend of holiday events in Belfast, including the annual early-bird sale earlier that day and the Menorah lighting on Sunday, starting at 3:30 p.m. in Post Office Square.

Henry Miller, foreground, watches on Nov. 29 as Belfast's Christmas tree topples over moments after it is cut at a farm on Marsh Road. (Photo by: Ethan Andrews)
Dan Miller of Belmont Boat Works makes preparations to salvage Belfast's downtown Christmas tree, which lost its top, foreground, on Nov. 29 as it was being harvested from a farm on Poors Mill Road. (Photo by: Ethan Andrews)
The Christmas tree installed in downtown Belfast on Nov. 29, appearing none the worse for wear after having its top snapped off earlier in the day. (Photo by: Ethan Andrews)
Unlike Belfast's Christmas tree, the downtown lighting ornament with the cocked head known as "Broke-neck Santa" only appears to be broken. (Photo by: Ethan Andrews)
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