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This Blue Spruce tree is being donated to the 
Homewood-Flossmoor Park District to replace 
the 60-foot holiday tree in Irwin Park that was 
toppled in high winds in March.
(Photo by Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

Carol Loreth got her Blue Spruce as a gift from Homewood businessman Richard D. Irwin. Now she’s making the tree her gift to the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District to replace the Irwin Park “Christmas tree” that was toppled by high winds.

“It’s a gorgeous tree with a great shape,” said Loreth who lives in Homewood’s Governors Park subdivision. The tree was “no bigger than my finger when I got it” at an Arbor Day celebration Irwin hosted for employees of his publishing company, then in downtown Homewood. She worked there for 25 years.

Loreth thinks it was 1985 when she planted the sprig in her front yard. She made certain it had plastic fencing around it “so it wouldn’t get run over by the lawn mower.”  Other than that, she let nature do the nurturing. The tree’s bottom branches were trimmed off a few years ago.

“I have mixed emotions. I like the tree, but it’s taking over my front yard. I think it’s only fitting that it go to Irwin Park,” Loreth said.

Residents lamented the March 16 loss of the first holiday tree, a Colorado spruce that stood near the intersection of Ridge Road and Gottschalk Avenue. The 60-foot tree was the victim of 50 mph winds. It had stood there since the early 1990s when a former park district employee donated it for use as a holiday tree.

Each year park district employees would decorate the tree and the park district’s annual tree-lighting ceremony would be the start of the village’s Holiday Lights celebration.

Doug Boehm, superintendent of Parks and Planning, said the park district received more than a dozen calls from residents volunteering their trees, but only three or four were seriously considered.

The selected tree, approximately 25-feet tall, will be planted in the same spot in Irwin Park.

Boehm is working with a firm that will move the tree. The tree is too big to get through the Dixie Highway viaduct. Boehm will be coordinating the move with the village because it will require a police escort.



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