In about two hours time, Homewood got a new “Christmas tree” at Irwin Park thanks to the generosity of resident Carol Loreth.
Three workers from Big Trees in Joliet came to Homewood Tuesday afternoon. Two men went to Loreth’s home to bundle the tree branches so they wouldn’t be disturbed during the move.
Tom Syc was assigned to Irwin Park running the massive spade on the back of a truck. He maneuvered the truck into place and lowered the spades to dig the hole near the corner of Gottschalk Avenue and Ridge Road.
The dirt mound was scooped out of the hole and the spades closed around it. Syc put the blades back into position and drove the truck to Loreth’s Governors Park subdivision dropping the dirt in her front yard next to the tree.
The apparatus then opened up to encircle the 25-foot Blue Spruce, the spades dug about five feet into the ground to scoop up the roots and attached dirt. Syc closed them and the tree was buckled onto the scoop for a save ride.
It was carted off down Park Avenue to the 183rd Street viaduct and driven through downtown Homewood to its new home at Irwin Park.
The tree was gently placed into the waiting hole. Several residents joined Homewood-Flossmoor Park District officials watching the process.
“It’s really neat to watch this,” said Rebecca Venneri who happened to be at the park with her son, Jordan, 6.
“It’s history in the making,” said Kelly Misner who came from her neighboring home with her husband, Bob. “I think it’s a great looking tree.”
Loreth admits she was concerned about how her beloved tree was going to get to its new home, but she was happy with the care the crew gave it.
“It will still have a nice home, and I can see it when I drive down Ridge Road,” she said.
Loreth volunteered her tree to replace the 60-foot Colorado spruce that stood in the park until high winds toppled it March 30. The tree came to be known as the park district’s Christmas tree because it was decorated each holiday season and celebrated with a tree lighting ceremony.
Loreth said she’s really returning the tree back to Irwin Park. She had gotten the seedling from Richard Irwin in about 1985 during an Arbor Day celebration at Irwin Publishing, then on Ridge Road, where she worked. Irwin Park is named for Irwin’s wife, Marie.