AUGUSTA — By itself in the middle of a side yard, away from the many other trees surrounding the home of Cliff and Anne Vining, a spruce tree grew nearly perfectly round in shape.

In that shapeliness, the Vinings saw two opportunities — the opportunity for Augusta to have a nice tree for its upcoming holiday festivities downtown, and the opportunity to open up that part of their lawn by getting rid of that tree, which was planted by a previous owner, probably many years ago.

“It was an evergreen tree sitting by itself in the middle of my lawn,” Cliff Vining said of the roughly 30-foot-high tree cut down and hauled away Wednesday. “Being a beautiful tree, it seemed like a good opportunity to donate it to the city, and for me to get rid of a tree.”

Vining said many other trees remain on their Newland Avenue property, but most are along the edges of the parcel, not in the middle like the solitary spruce.

The tree, according to Bruce Chase, recreation director, will be put up Saturday morning in Market Square in downtown Augusta, where it’ll be decorated next week by city parks workers. The decorations will include lights that won’t be fired up just yet.

The lighting of the tree will be a featured attraction the following weekend, at the city’s Nov. 25 annual holiday celebration and tree-lighting.

Santa Claus is expected to do the honors, lighting the tree at 5 p.m. Nov. 25.

Santa is expected downtown well before the evening tree lighting. Chase said Santa is scheduled to arrive on Water Street around 1 p.m. on a hay wagon escorted by the Augusta Fire Department.

Water Street will be closed to traffic for the festivities, which will include hayrides, craft-making for children in Santa’s workshop, live reindeer people can feed, visits with Santa, and performances by area dance troupes.

The hayride will go from Water Street, across the river to Old Fort Western, and back across the river to Commercial Street to loop back to Water Street.

Santa’s workshop will be inside 190 Water St.

“We’re excited and hoping for a great day. We hope we get lots of kids to come and visit with Santa,” Chase said of the event, which he said has taken place each year for at least the last 20 years.

Fireworks, shot over the Kennebec River, will follow the tree lighting about 5:15 p.m.

Vining said they plan to attend both the placement of the tree this Saturday morning and the tree-lighting Nov. 25.

“We’ll be there. We wouldn’t want to miss it,” Cliff Vining said.

Vining had offered the tree to the city for a holiday tree last year as well, but the city already had a tree then, Chase and Vining said.

The tree was taken down by Brownies Landscaping and Excavation.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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