ALPENA - Former Mayor Carol Shafto has given a lot of themselves to the community over the years, and although she has stepped away from local politics, she again has stepped forward and donated something dear to her.
Shafto wanted to make one last major contribution to the city and decided to donate a 36 foot tall, blue spruce tree that was in her yard to be Alpena's Christmas tree at Culligan Plaza.
Shafto said the tree was only about 10 feet tall when she purchased her home in Alpena and has grown about two feet a year since. She said over the years it has been a significant part of her family's life. She said the size of the tree was becoming an issue on her land and instead of just cutting it down and using it for firewood, she said it made more sense to have it on display for everyone to enjoy this Christmas season.
News Photo by Steve Schulwitz
The Shafto family donated this year’s Christmas tree at Culligan Plaza this holiday season. On Friday Shawn Shafto, Sasha Shafto, Julian Shafto and Carol Shafto will take part in the lighting ceremony after the local holiday parade.
"The tree is almost like a part of my family. We have had so many events where the family would stand by the tree for pictures and it sort of grew up right along with my children," Shafto said. "It has been there for a lot of special occasions."
Shafto said the tree was about 18 inches from her home and at the rate is was growing it was going to interfere with getting in and out of the house. She said she also feared that if the tree made contact with the house, it would affect its growth.
"I never trimmed that tree. It just had that perfect shape that was just natural," Shafto said. "Some people have to trim trees to make them lovely, but this one just grew like that."
As a thank you for Shafto's generosity, the city has chosen her three-year old grandson, Julian Shafto, to throw the switch that brings the tree to life today after the annual holiday parade downtown. She said she wants to have her family involved in the ceremony for the tree the day after Thanksgiving, because the tree holds special memories to them as well and thinks they should be involved one last time.
"It is something I want us to do together, because all of the other things with the tree were family related, "Shafto said.
Shafto said word has spread about her donation to the city and she has received thanks from many members of it.
"It is amazing," Shafto said. "I have had Facebook postings, phone calls and I've gotten notes in the mail from people thanking me and telling me how beautiful tree is. That makes me feel good."
Shafto said she intends to plant another tree of some sort in the spot where the large spruce tree was. She said she may be more inclined to plant a different type of tree that won't grow as fast. She said not having the tree in her yard is somewhat emotional for her, but thinks once the lights on it shine out Friday, it will be a sight to behold.
"I have stopped and visited it several times and I get sort of teary eyed because it sort of had a personality to it," Shafto said. "I know when the lights go on she is going to be beautiful and I'm going to be emotional, bit I know the community, especially the children are going to love her."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.