Landmark Wilmington Christmas tree could soon come down

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It was once the world’s largest living Christmas tree. Soon though it could come down, but the folks who want to cut it down say they have a plan. It’s been here and used as a Christmas tree since the 1920s, but these days it looks like a shadow of its former self.  When the city stopped lighting the tree, it prompted Gene Merritt to take action

“About three years ago I wrote a letter to the City of Wilmington to restart the former tradition if you will of the Christmas tree in this community,” Merritt said.

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Santa’s old house was torn down this week. CFPUA spokesman Mike McGill said the structure had deteriorated so badly, there really was no other option. The tree sits on land now owned by CFPUA.

“It’s a story we tell when we give a tour of our plant. We understand the meaning that it has for a lot of people in this area,” said McGill.

So Merritt’s plan is to cut it down, recycle what they can and reuse what’s left. They are in talks with a local nonprofit to turn usable wood from the tree into mementos that can be sold to raise money to plant a new tree at Legion Stadium.

“The tree is just, it was just such a breathtaking sight, but as things do, trees are like people and the tree has fallen on hard times and there’s not much left of it,” said Wilmington City Councilman Charlie Rivenbark.

He says he likes the plan but maintained the plans to cut the tree down are not finalized. It would still have to get approval from City Council and from CFPUA. Merritt says that could happen within 30 days.