Thirty-five feet of memories were hauled away from a home in Loudonville by about a dozen state employees Thursday and put on display in East Capitol Park in Albany.
The effect is a lot more sun on the home of Grace and Dennis Kivelin, which previously was overshadowed by a large tree in the front lawn at 6 Rachlin Lane. Now the blue spruce is on display for visitors to the Capitol and will feature Christmas lights starting Dec. 2.
“When we first moved here [in 1976], the tree was the same height I was,” said Grace Kivelin. “It has kind of grown up with the family.”
And family has grown up with the tree, as six grandchildren were on hand Thursday morning to watch the tree get sliced from its roots with a chain saw and laid on a flatbed truck by a large crane. The kids, who ranged in age from 6 to 13, were sad to see the tree leave, but happy that others would get to see it.
Grace Kivelin said the tree has been the focal point of many family occasions, whether it was for Easter egg hunts or holding up banners advertising graduations and babies. In recent years, the tree has also been tied with yellow ribbons to signify that her son and two sons-in-law were overseas for military service.
“Every activity that has gone on in the family has gone on around the tree,” she said.
This sentiment was echoed by her daughter, Claudia Flayter, who has known the tree her entire life. She and a few of her sisters were on hand to watch the tree felled.
Flayter recounted how the tree could be clearly visible in the neighborhood when it displayed Christmas lights. As it got taller and taller, the family had to create new ways to place the lights. Kivelin said the recent technique involved using a pool skimmer that had extensions on it.
“It took a lot of inventions to get things up in that tree,” she said. “There’s still Christmas lights in there from the last time.”
Once the tree was lifted onto the flatbed, though, a worker began taking the lights out. Over the next few weeks, Heather Grohl of the state’s Office of General Services said lights will be put back on the tree. It will eventually be paired on the Empire State Plaza with a tree being taken from a Latham home today. The second tree was planted more than 20 years ago.
Both owners volunteered for the honor of providing the trees.
The lights on both will be turned on at the state tree lighting and fireworks ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 2. The event includes a day of activities on the Concourse, including caroling, face painting and an appearance by Santa Claus.
“It will be going out with a bang,” Flayter said of the family tree.
Removing the tree is also a bit of a welcome relief, as Kivelin said the tree has started to outgrow its space.
“It’s just gotten so big that none of the plants in my garden will grow anymore,” she said.
When the tree was being pulled out, Dennis Kivelin joked that he would call the police to report it missing. He also jokingly informed one worker that they had taken the wrong one.
To handle the job, the state rented a crane for about $1,000 per tree.
The state tried to take the Latham tree on Tuesday, but problems with the flatbed forced the delay. A worker at the Kivelin home noted Thursday that the flatbed has been part of the ongoing Hurricane Sandy relief efforts downstate and on Long Island.