A Columbus couple looked out onto their backyard with a sense of sadness but in hopes that this year’s city Christmas tree will bring joy to the entire community.

Jim and Jayne Frakes, who live along South Station Drive on the city’s northeast side, donated their 35-foot-tall spruce tree to the city and watched Thursday as workers removed their tree, which now stands outside Columbus City Hall.

Local residents are asked every year to consider donating a tree from their property to be put in front of City Hall. The Frakes’ tree, which was 6 feet tall when it was planted 17 years ago, offered the couple privacy in their backyard and was decorated for the holiday season in its early years.

However, the tree’s overall size became unmanageable, prompting a phone call to the city in June about having it removed.

Story continues below gallery

Click here to purchase photos from this gallery

Jayne Frakes, who recorded video of the removal effort on her cellphone Thursday morning, watched as the tree was removed by workers from Frank’s Tree Service and lifted by a crane onto the bed of a city truck. The couple said they never thought their tree would be chosen as the official city Christmas tree but are happy it was selected — as it would have been removed regardless.

“It’s gotten so large, and it’s encroaching on everything,” Jim Frakes said.

He added that the absence of the large tree would make things somewhat different this year, despite six other smaller spruce trees in their backyard.

“There’s some sadness,” he said. “It’s a beautiful tree.”

While the Frakeses say they have always admired their tree, they hope the community will be able to enjoy it as well.

The process of selecting an official tree to be displayed at Columbus City Hall is evaluated year-round, said Bryan Burton, the city’s public works director.

There was no shortage of options this year, as about half a dozen homeowners called the city, willing to donate theirs, he said.

The appearance of a tree and its overall height are important factors that go into selecting the City Hall tree, Burton said, noting that the Frakes’ tree fit the criteria.

“It’s a beautiful tree,” Burton said.

Removing it from the Frakes’ property went a lot smoother than the task of placing it into the city’s tree stand, however.

More than 30 people who endured the rain helped carry the tree up the steps of Columbus City Hall, holding wooden planks on both sides of the tree that eventually snapped.

Two ropes also were tied onto the tree and pulled by at least three individuals standing on the City Hall roof, while a group of about a dozen individuals attempted to put the tree into a tree stand. However, the stump was too big for the stand, requiring employees from Frank’s Tree Care to use a chainsaw to reduce its overall size.

The tree, which has been decorated with lights, will be lit Friday, said Mary Ferdon, executive director of administration and community development.

Ferdon said she appreciated the hard work from everyone involved in cutting down and putting up the city’s Christmas tree.

“We know it’s really important to the community,” Ferdon said.

Santa House hours at Commons

The city of Columbus will decorate The Commons and offer a Santa House for the holiday season. The Commons will have a reindeer underneath its staircase and a large artificial tree at the top of the stairs in the corner window for the holidays, Commons manager Shanda Sasse said. Here are hours and events for the Santa House.

When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 9 and 16; and 4 to 8 p.m. Dec. 14 during “A Night So Silent Night” event.

Where: Indoors at 300 Washington St.

Author photo
Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com