Many Seymour residents can recall driving past the giant Christmas tree on the front lawn of the former Indiana State Police post on U.S. 50.
Every year for the holiday, police would string brightly colored lights on the tree, delighting kids and adults.
That tradition ended after the post closed and consolidated with the Versailles Post in early 2010, having served Seymour and the surrounding area since it was built in 1937.
The pine tree, which stands 45 to 50 feet tall, has remained on the property with little to no attention paid to it until now. Even some of the lights remained wrapped around the branches, forgotten.
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After Schneck Medical Center purchased the property earlier this year to turn one of the buildings into a second ambulance garage, it was decided the tree would come down. Renovation of the garage currently is underway, but hospital officials said they have no plans for the post itself at this time.
Early Tuesday morning, a crew from the city’s department of public works cut down the tree and relocated it to One Chamber Square in downtown Seymour.
Seymour Police Department even provided an escort Tuesday to help get the tree through traffic to its new location.
A crane from Foster Brothers was used to hoist the giant tree into place next to the flagpoles at One Chamber Square. Several people walking or driving downtown at the time stopped to take pictures.
Chad Dixon with the Seymour Department of Public Works said it took around two hours to get the tree cut down, moved and set up downtown. They had planned to decorate it Wednesday afternoon and today.
In the past, 1,600 lights have been used, but with the bigger size of this year’s tree, that number has increased to 2,800 lights, Dixon said.
“We also changed to LED lights this year, and they are multicolored,” Dixon said. “We’re also getting a new topper. The weather has just taken a toll on the old one.”
The LED lights are more energy efficient, will last longer, are more durable and are safer, Dixon said.
Seymour Main Street is helping with the cost of the new lights and tree decorations.
Dixon said the tree is the best one the city has had in awhile because of its size, fullness and symmetry.
The hospital donated the tree for the annual downtown Christmas celebration, which will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 28. The popular event, organized by the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce, draws a crowd of more than 1,000 people if the weather is good.
During the event, Santa Claus will arrive on a firetruck with Mayor Craig Luedeman to help light the tree and will be available for children to have their pictures taken with him afterwards. There also will be craft and gift vendors, musical performances, activities and food. New this year will be a trackless train for kids to ride.
One of the highlights of the event is Jingle John and his fellow elves, who bring live animals from Silly Safaris for people to pet, including reindeer.
Former Seymour resident Angela Overgaard, who now lives in Crothersville, said seeing the tree being moved downtown made her feel nostalgic. She said she always liked seeing the tree lit up at the police post.
“I remember it being decorated top to bottom,” she said. “I also remember it being decorated only about halfway up once it got too big to reach the top, and there was always a cutout Santa and his trusty reindeer with a spotlight near it.”
But there is some speculation the tree is not the original one at the police post, as that one possibly blew over and was replaced by this one.
Regardless, Overgaard said she thought it was a fitting honor for the tree to serve as the city’s downtown Christmas tree this year and plans to see it lit up once again for one last time.
“That tree watched Highway 50 for years,” she said. “Summer, winter, sun and rain, it has seen the change in climate, population, roads widened, skylines redesigned and the growth of our small town.”
One Chamber Christmas
Seymour’s Christmas celebration will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 28, at One Chamber Square in downtown Seymour.
* Jingle John and his live reindeer will kick off the holiday season.
* Santa will arrive by firetruck for the official lightup of downtown.
* Vendors will be on hand.
* Entertainment will be at One Chamber Square.
For information, call 812-522-3681.