Hobart tries floating tree again
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent January 5, 2013 6:16PM
A floating Christmas tree anchored in Lake George in Hobart Friday Jan. 4, 2013. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 7, 2013 6:28AM
HOBART — The floating Christmas tree has returned to Lake George for a trial run following an absence of about 20 years, and city officials hope it will once again become a holiday tradition.
Virginia Curtis, of the City Improvement Committee, said Hobart had a decorated Christmas tree placed on a floating platform on Lake George for about three or four years.
“The first year the underwater cable disappeared. We bought another. After two years it disappeared again along with the lights,” Curtis said.
Still, the CIC, which also presents the free concerts at Festival Park every summer, decided it wanted to bring the tradition back and approached the mayor, Curtis said.
She said Mayor Brian Snedecor was receptive to the idea, and with the help of Boyd Construction and the city public works and fire departments, the tree went up on Christmas Eve.
Snedecor said Boyd spent a “considerable amount” of money to build the floating platform on which the tree was placed and Remus Farms provided the 25-foot tree that stands on it.
While the tree looks beautiful as it rises above the waters of Lake George, those involved in the project agreed accomplishing this feat was not easy.
“We never had so much trouble getting it out before,” Curtis said. “The boat got frozen at the pier and we had to chisel it loose. The lights blew off the tree because it was terribly windy and awfully cold that day,” she said.
She said Boyd made a permanent float, however, so a new one won’t be needed for next year.
Dwight Murdock, with Meade Electric, and Tommy Vaclavik, with Boyd Construction, helped put the tree up, as they did some 20 years ago.
They agreed there were some problems this year, including having to go back out on New Year’s Eve with commercial grade lights because the first ones weren’t visible from shore. Still, despite the setbacks, they and Curtis said they hope this will become a yearly tradition.
“This was a great thing to bring back. It brings a lot of people together,” Murdock said at the City Council meeting last week.
“I’d like to see it as a yearly tradition,” said Vaclavik, who said he will begin working on the floating tree earlier next year to make sure it’s done right.
“I hope to have it floating every year,” Curtis said.
Snedecor said in the future, he hopes to coincide the lighting of the floating tree with the city’s annual Tree Lighting ceremony at Festival Park.
For now, Snedecor said the tree will probably stay up until mid-January.