Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Life

December 2, 2013

LAST CHRISTMAS: Family decorates dying tree for 28th, final time

Goshen family decorates dying tree for 28th, final time

GOSHEN — Christmas in Goshen may shine just a little less brightly in the coming years following news that the large Christmas tree along Indiana Avenue decorated annually by the Gene Stutsman family is on its final year.

According to Stutsman, he and his family have had a long-running tradition of decorating the nearly 70-foot-tall blue spruce located on the family’s property in the 800 block of South Indiana Avenue. This will be the 28th year the family has decorated the outdoor wonder.

“The tree was actually a family Christmas tree when I was a kid,” Stutsman said of the tree. “We actually used it inside, and then planted it outside when we were done with it.”

Stutsman joked that when he first got the idea for decorating the tree, he thought a few strings of lights and one electrical outlet would have him covered. Today, that number has jumped to five 20-amp outlets and over 2,400 LED lights, resulting in one of the largest — and brightest — Christmas trees in the area.

“I’d say I put in probably seven hours on a cherry picker, and it takes us another four to five hours after that to get everything ready,” Stutsman said of the tree’s preparation. “We used to have to buy 300 bulbs a year in order to keep them all lit, but now with the LEDs they have a little better longevity.”

Unfortunately, that longevity doesn’t appear to have transferred over to the tree itself.

Over the last 10 years, Stutsman said he noticed that the aging tree had begun to show increasing signs of damage, and it was later discovered that the tree had been attacked by a particularly virulent form of tree fungus that is nearly impossible to stop.

“It’s a type of fungus that attacks blue spruces when they reach a certain age,” Stutsman said. “The blue spruce tree’s natural habitat is up in the mountains, and with all the pollution around them down here, eventually they can’t stand it anymore and they start to get this fungus attacking them.”

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