Official state Christmas tree harvested in Kingsford

KINGSFORD — While much of the U.P. is celebrating the Halloween season, residents of Dickinson County have already started getting in the Christmas spirit.

“We just got a knock on the door one morning, and here comes Denny Olson, ‘Would you like to donate a tree?’ We looked at each other and (said), ‘do we?’, and he said ‘yes, I think we can’,” Helen Bjorkman, one of the owners of this year’s State Christmas tree, said.

A blue spruce weighing in at over 11,000 pounds was harvested from the Bjorkmans’ yard in Kingsford Thursday morning and was sent off on its long journey to Lansing to become the official state Christmas tree.

“This is the 20th tree to come from the Upper Peninsula, which just says a lot for what the U.P. has as far as timber and just humongous, beautiful Christmas trees,” Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget spokesperson Lauren Leeds said.

Those involved in the harvesting event expressed pride in the selection of the tree from an area with deep roots in the timber industry.

“I think it’s a great honor to have this tree going to Lansing for a Christmas tree, and we praise the Lord that we had the tree to do this with,” Bill Bjorkman said.

“This year is pretty unique for me, personally, with my family being involved in the hauling of the tree – bringing it down to the capital – so we’re pretty excited today to see this happen,” State Senator Tom Casperson said.

This is the second Kingsford tree in a decade chosen to be a part of the annual Silver Bells in the City celebration in Lansing.

“In honor of it being the 30th Silver Bells, they’re actually stringing the tree with an additional 4,000 to 5,000 lights, so they’re harvesting a week earlier than usual so they have more time to string it,” Leeds said..

“If you could be there when the Silver Bells parade is, and to see over 100,000 people get excited about this tree, and when they have the countdown, and they throw the switch and it’s lit, and the fireworks go off behind the capitol, and the capitol is in between the tree and the fireworks, it’s just amazing,” Denny Olson, a member of the team harvesting the tree, said.

The Silver Bells in the City celebration takes place November 21.

While the Bjorkmans say they’ll miss their spruce, a brand new maple is going to be planted in its place.