WAKEFIELD — The western U.P. faced some rain rather than snow Wednesday morning, but one community in Gogebic County got into the Christmas spirit anyway.
A spruce growing in the City of Wakefield became one of 23 Upper Peninsula trees to be named the official State Christmas Tree. This isn’t the first time this 26 foot evergreen has been on the state’s wish list.
“We just happened to be riding in Wakefield last year when we spotted this tree,” said Denny Olson, a member of the team harvesting the tree. “We almost cut it last year, but we couldn’t get a crane up here at the proper time.”
The tree was donated by Florence Daniels in memory of her husband, Jim Daniels, who passed away in May. Daniels was a Wakefield teacher and coach for many years.
“He was just a great guy,” said Janet Miljevich, daughter of Jim Daniels. “He was just a sweet man. He loved everybody. He’d help you in a minute, and we were sad to see him go.”
“My dad actually graduated from Michigan State, so having it sent down to Lansing I guess is truly an honor,” said Ann Niemela, another of Daniels’s daughters. “He would have just been so into these festivities that it would have been amazing for him.”
“This will be the thirtieth tree that has been a donation to the state, and the family always feels honored, and quite often there’s a great back story, just as there is in this case,” said Steven Doty of the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget.
A team of timber professionals, engineers, and officials from Lansing coordinated the effort to harvest the tree. Thanks to the generosity of this local family and their community, the tree will be making its way to Lansing to be lit up on November 20th, just in time for the holidays.
“Wakefield has opened up their arms to us to provide this State Capitol Christmas Tree this year, and the Daniels family has just been super to work with,” added Olson.