published Friday, November 12th, 2010

Macy's tree harvested in Polk County


by Adam Crisp

OCOEE, Tenn. -- Macy's may be one of the most recognizable names in retail, but Larry Rymer knows little about the department store and has never shopped in one of the retailer's eight Atlanta locations.

"I've seen some of their commercials on TV, and it seems pretty expensive," Rymer said. "We mostly shop at Walmart."

So Rymer and his wife, Kathryn, weren't quite sure what to think when a man came to their house two months ago asking to buy a large white pine tree on their property that he said would adorn the top of the Macy's at Lenox Square.

"They put a note on our fence and called for probably a month, but I never recognized the phone number, so I didn't answer," Kathryn Rymer said. "But eventually they left a message and wanted to meet in person."

After talking things over with a Macy's representative, the Rymers decided they'd be honored to have their tree used as a part of the holiday celebration. The tree at the corner of their front yard was planted decades ago by a previous owner of the property, according to Larry Rymer.

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press Bobby Smith, from Superior Rigging, uses a chain saw to remove a nearly 30-year-old white pine from the front yard of Larry Rymer's Ocoee, Tenn., residence on Thursday. The tree will be used as the official Macy's Christmas tree perched atop Lenox Mall in Atlanta.

Once in place atop the Macy's at Lenox, the tree will be a focal point for a Thanksgiving Day gala that features big-name entertainers and a massive fireworks show.

It's such a big part of the city's holiday season, Atlanta TV stations routinely follow the tree by helicopter as it is brought to the city.

"We get a trip to Atlanta, we're gonna be on TV, and I thought, 'Golly, why not?'" Larry Rymer said.

The $1,000 the retailer paid for the tree was a nice incentive, too, he said.

On Wednesday, a crew carefully tied back all of the tree's massive limbs. On Thursday, workers cut and lifted the 65-foot, 12,000-pound Georgia white pine onto a large tractor-trailer as a crowd of locals watched from U.S. Highway 411 in front of the Rymers' home.

Before the planning and careful prep work was more than a decade of careful tree scouting all over the region.

Steve and Wilbur Guy operate Entertainment Design Group Inc., the company hired to put on the Macy's show in Atlanta. They look for trees all over the region just for Macy's.

"We probably have 10 or 12 possible trees we could use," Wilbur Guy said. "But my son has a cabin in Pigeon Forge, so we drive by this one all the time."

There was something special about the size and shape of the Rymers' tree, Steve Guy said.

"I've kept my eye on this tree for the last 12 years, looking for just the right time to cut it and use it in Atlanta," he said.

The Guys typically line up a few live trees for each year's celebration on the off chance that one is badly damaged while being cut or transported. Thursday's felling of the Rymers' tree went off without a hitch, though.

The tree will arrive in Atlanta on Sunday, then crews will spend two weeks decorating it with 4,000 11-watt bulbs and ornaments no smaller than a basketball, Steve Guy said. Roughly 100,000 people are expected to attend the tree lighting, where singers Katherine McPhee, Chuck Wicks and Bobby V. will perform.

In Atlanta, the Macy's tree lighting is a holiday tradition, said Susan Cagle, of Woodstock, Ga., who donated the tree for the 2007 ceremony. The celebration has been going on for 63 years.

"It's just a huge tradition for a lot of families," said Cagle, who drove a little less than two hours Thursday to watch the Rymers' tree be cut down. "It's just an exciting thing to be a part of. It's one of the biggest events of the Christmas season."

about Adam Crisp...

Adam Crisp covers education issues for the Times Free Press. He joined the paper's staff in 2007 and initially covered crime, public safety, courts and general assignment topics. Prior to Chattanooga, Crisp was a crime reporter at the Savannah Morning News and has been a reporter and editor at community newspapers in southeast Georgia. In college, he led his student paper to a first-place general excellence award from the Georgia College Press Association. He earned ...

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atank said...

$1000 for a tree that took 15 + years to grow that large and wonderful, now it will sit in Atlanta for a month and die, what a terrible shame.

November 12, 2010 at 7:46 a.m.
easyeintn said...

well Bahumbug to you too atank....

We were getting such great use out of that tree, it really is a terrible tradgey to see it go. Now, there is only about 3.4 million trees just like it left in the woods. Terrible, terrible shame!

November 12, 2010 at 2:33 p.m.
Jashawn said...

It probably would have just been shot in the face anyways... that's what I do when I see a nice big mature Pine

November 12, 2010 at 2:48 p.m.
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