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City opens holiday season with Christmas Tree lighting

Posted: December 3, 2010 4:32 p.m.
Updated: December 6, 2010 5:00 a.m.
Martha Bruce/C-I

Lights shine on this cedar tree donated by Margaret Hughes, originally planted in her and her husband’s front yard on East Hampton Street in 1976 in honor of her mother who died that year. She donated the tree in honor of her late husband.

The following are remarks by Camden City Manager Kevin Bronson during Thursday night’s City Hall Christmas Tree lighting ceremony:

In 1976, Mr. and Mrs. Douglas H. Hughes planted a deodar cedar tree in their front yard in memory of Mrs. Hughes’ mother who had died that year. While doing so, two little boys passed by and were heard to exclaim, “Look, they are planting a Christmas tree!” Neither those boys nor the Hughes would know how prophetic that statement would become 34 years later.

In early November, I mentioned to Liz Gilland, the city’s urban forester, that I had found some possible Christmas trees for city hall, one of which was growing in the front yard of a house on East Hampton Street. After looking at several of the trees around town, Liz agreed with me that the tree on East Hampton Street would make for a spectacular display. Liz visited the house to speak with the residents, but no one was home. She did notice, though, a name engraved on the brass door knocker: Hughes.

After some investigation, Liz tracked down the owner of the home, Mrs. Margaret Hughes, who is currently living in the Upstate.

Liz explained who she was and asked if Mrs. Hughes would consider donating the tree to the city for Christmas. After a few minutes of conversation, Mrs. Hughes said that she needed to think about it and would call back by the end of the week. Later that week, Mrs. Hughes called to say that, yes, she would be honored to donate the tree and wanted to donate it in her late husband’s memory, Douglas H Hughes. In exchange for her generosity, the city will be planting another deodar cedar tree in her yard this winter.

The city staff have dubbed the tree the mini-Rockfeller Center Christmas tree and is quite likely the largest tree the city has had on display.

Mrs. Huhges, unfortunately, will not be able to see her tree in lights personally, but her daughter, Mrs. Patricia Wyatt from Travelers Rest, is here tonight.

I’d like to thank:

Vickie Shirley and Erica West of Victorian Expressions Formal Wear -- thanks for the bid red bow (placed on top of the tree).

Dan Cantey of Cantey Construction -- thanks for giving our tree a ride.

Chris Freeman of Sox & Freeman Tree Expert Company -- thanks for the extra tree care.

While many staff members participated in preparing this wonderful Christmas symbol, I am compelled to thank -- Officer Kevin Lynch, Officer Rich Tucker, Jerry Marthers, Chris Carter, William Van Hoos, Jason Byrd, Jason Burr, Matthew Grigsby, Adam Watford, Dale Harper, Michelle Davis, Red Ray and Lee Rose.

I’d also like to express my personal gratitude to Liz Gilland, who coordinated every detail with an eye toward perfection.

It seems to me the good in giving to others is amplified during the Christmas season. To Mrs. Hughes, and Ms. Wyatt, I say, “Thank you for your generosity,” this was the perfect gift at the perfect time.

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