Earlier this week I rounded the corner onto Liberty Street and there was this magnificent 53-plus-feet tall tree glimmering with lights and even this old bah-humbug newspaper man was in awe.
Franklin, Pennsylvania has less than 10,000 people and they still find a way to live big.
But she also gives towns like Franklin a chance to shine brighter than a star atop a Christmas tree.
"So little did we know the Grinch was in town today trying to steal our Christmas by kicking over our beautiful tree," Commissioner Chip Abramovic posted Monday.
He and others weren't too thrilled with the Grinch this week as it appeared he and Mother Nature had teamed up to play a holiday prank.
The trouble started on Sunday night. Ronnie Beith, Franklin's events coordinator, called Paul Bunyan's Tree Service leader Ed Turner because the city's tree seemed to be leaning due to some high winds.
Turner, who got emotional on Light Up Night about how much pride he had about being a part of this tradition, called his employee Travis Reed to check out the situation. Travis and his brother Trevor went down and pounded in the tethered anchors hoping to keep the tree secured.
By 1 p.m. Monday, the tree toppled over.
This was a sad thing for many passing by. One lady was in tears wondering what happened.
It was emotional for the volunteers who had put it up as well. Beith was onsite Monday helping untangle lights alongside Franklin Fine Arts Council president Pat Dolecki and others. "It is what it is," Beith said, trying to find words for the last few hours.
"It's ok; it's just a tree," Dolecki said as she coiled the lights into moveable bunches.
Then, during what seemed like a punch in the gut of Christmas during a nearly two-year run of COVID nightmares, perspective was restored.
A fury of discussions took place between everyone on scene. "Can we save the top and put that up?" "Do we just abandon the idea?" "Do we decorate the small tree about 30 feet away?"
Then Abramovic stepped up and said his friends out at French Creek Farm might have a suitable replacement.
"Paul Bunyan Tree Service had the tree cut up in hurry, then Dan Weiland, Rick Miller, and myself went to French Creek Farms and found the biggest tree they had (or biggest tree three men could load in a dump truck.) We cut it down, loaded it up and it is sitting on the Courthouse steps for the morning," he posted on social media.
"And this is the incredible town we live in... Our beautiful tree that so many of you worked so hard on came crashing down today. Instead of being defeated, after hours of disassembling our Rockefeller tree, a new one emerges," the Franklin Retail Association posted.
Abramovic admits the whole thing was a fly by the seat of his pants endeavor to save Christmas for the city. He was under the tree with a chainsaw at one point in the dark just hoping everything fell right.
And it did.
Beith posted, "Well, life happens and today we lost our beautiful Christmas tree. First thing to mention is thank God that no one was hurt. The second important mention is the rumor that the tree fell slowly and we are praying that the slow fall protected the monument from major damage. Another thank you to God and our heavenly angels. Chip Abramovic placed a call to Ed Turner, who might we add is on vacation. Ed immediately got on the task, contacted his crew from Paul Bunyon Tree Service and they arrived at the courthouse within about 45 minutes. It was of utmost importance to remove the tree from the monument as quickly as possible."
"I have my suspicions that the crew probably had to leave another job to come to our rescue," Beith said about the Paul Bunyan crew who donate their services.
"We all rolled up our sleeves to salvage the lights from the tree. The Paul Bunyan crew were excellent and even provided help in saving the lights," Beith added.
"We spoke of it afterwards and the taking down and placing of this tree is a yearly labor of love (particularly this year). Nothing is gained by any of these “helpers” but the good feeling that fills our hearts when our friends and visitors see it and enjoy it during this special time of year. I love our Christmas helpers."