By Tim Leeds
After a few last-minute problems and changes, things were falling into place today to get the community Christmas tree planted in time for this weekend's holiday festivities.
"Everybody dropped what they were doing and came in to fulfill their obligation," Larry Adams said.
Adams owns and operates Badland Tree and Landscaping and Badland Nursery, which donated the 22-foot Colorado spruce and the labor to plant it as a permanent Christmas tree in the new downtown park and townsquare.
The plan was to plant the tree last week, but Adams said there was a problem with the original thought to move the tree with a front-end loader. A permit to move heavy equipment on city streets allows only unladen equipment to travel certainly not holding a tree Adams estimates at six tons.
But, he said, Baltrusch Construction Co. fixed that.
"Actually, Bill Baltrusch just solved that problem instantly" by volunteering the use of a crane to load the tree onto a trailer and then set it into the hole, Adams said.
Adams said Baltrusch got up early several days and drove 80 miles to make sure the job the crane was on got finished in time. Jim Verploegen donated the use of a trailer to move the tree. Dave Clausen cut the pavement for the hole. Tom Patrick dug the hole, and Montana Power Co. set up the electricity for the tree's lights.
Other contractors and members of the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce have put in a lot of volunteer time to get the town square project going, Adams said. Times are not the best for the local economy and people have dropped everything to put tremendous effort into a job for no pay, he added.
"It makes me proud of being a Havreite, proud of being a Montanan," he said.
Chamber board member Terry Schend said the tree should be in place in time for Saturday's tree lighting and Christmas Stroll.
The weekend starts with Santa arriving at the Holiday Village Shopping Center on Friday. He will be at the mall again Saturday, and there will also be a charity jam session and live reindeer in the afternoon.
The Atrium Mall also has activities Saturday, with Key Club cookie decorating for children and the PEO selling packages of hot chocolate and cookies. Anchor Academy will be singing at 4 p.m. and again after the tree lighting at 5:30 p.m.
The town square activities, in addition to the tree lighting, include the daylong Christmas Stroll. Businesses will have activities, events and promotions as part of the stroll.
Judging for the best holiday window display starts at 2 p.m.
Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive at the town square for the tree lighting. There will be holiday music, kettle corn and hot cider, and the Salvation Army will kick off its Red Kettle Campaign at the ceremony.
Van Orsdel United Methodist Church is presenting a live nativity scene Saturday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and the VFW is hosting Santa and serving refreshments at the Vets Club after the tree lighting.
Havre is not the only community holding special events Thanksgiving weekend. Chinook's 15th annual Christmas Stroll, sponsored by the Chinook Area Chamber of Commerce, starts Friday, with free pictures with Santa running from 2 to 4 p.m. at Wells Fargo Bank. The line-up for the 6 p.m. parade of lights starts by Meadowlark School at 5:30 p.m., and the tree-lighting ceremony is at 7 p.m. in Centennial Park across from the Chinook Motor Inn.
The tree lighting will follow Mayor Bill Oehmcke's introduction. Caroling precedes drawings for three $50 gift certificates. All Chamber members will have sign-up boxes available for registration throughout the day. People must be present to win the drawings.
Crafters will be set up in the former Coast to Coast building next to Wells Fargo, the Blaine County Museum will be open from 1 to 5 p.m., and the Blaine County Wildlife Museum will host an open house. The Chinook Motor Inn will host a holiday wreath and silent auction in its lobby.
People who would like to enter a float in the parade of lights can call Nancy Diemert at 357-3333 or pick up an entry form at the Chinook Pharmacy.
Big Sandy will hold a Christmas parade on Monday, with lineup at 5 p.m. The parade will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Big Sandy will participate in the Choteau County Christmas celebration on Dec. 1-2. Christ Lutheran Church will have a bake sale and local businesses will be offering special goods.
A public lunch will be held at the Big Sandy Senior Citizens Center at 11 a.m. on Dec. 1, with a style show during the lunch.
Crafters will sell their goods at City Hall.