PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Christmas trees come and go as the holidays move from Christmas to New Year’s.
One tree, however, isn’t going anywhere. It’s the Salute Your Soldier Honor Tree, also known as the Veterans Tree, in City Park.
“People can put ornaments on it through the end of January,” said Vicki Marshall, executive director of the Wood County Recreation Commission. “The tree is located across from offices in the triangle area.”
The area is near the Parkersburg City Police substation and park pavilion. There is a small sign in front of the veterans tree, designating it as such.
“The most popular type of ornament is a clear bulb which people will put a military family member’s picture in,” she said. “We’ll leave the ornaments on the tree until Jan. 31 and remove them then. We’ll store the bulbs until next year and place them back on the tree.”
Marshall said bulbs placed on the tree this season will be moved higher next year. “What it does is leave the bottom portion empty,” she said. “And then as people leave their new ornaments, they’re actually decorating the tree for us.”
Marshall said the commission will use a boom truck to move the ornaments toward the top. “It’s a fairly large tree,” said Marshall. “It can hold a lot of ornaments. And fortunately so far, no one has placed anything on it which needed to be removed. There are enough people walking by the tree, stopping to look at it, on a daily basis, we know if there’s anything there which shouldn’t be on the tree.
Marshall said no fee is required to place an ornament on the tree. She offered tips on how to keep the ornament secured to the tree and in one piece.
“People should glue the cap to the ornament,” she said. “With the weather we’ve had, the wind and rain will just separate the bulb from the cap and it will end up on the ground. That’s no good. But we do make several trips to the tree to collect what’s fallen and try to place it back. That’s doesn’t always work, though.”
Marshall said people should have a large hook for the ornament.
“Large ones, such as the ones they secure larger bulbs with on their own trees,” she said. “They should wrap the wire around the branch several times before securing the hook to the ornament. They can take the remaining wire off the hook and bend it back over the bulb to secure it also.”
Marshall said people “have been very respectful of the tree and the ornaments attached, as they are family members who have served their country. The tree gets lots of ornaments as we close in on Christmas as people arrive in town. It is becoming a very special military memorial for the holidays.”