The Northern Sentinel has since learned that the origin of the community Christmas tree is not exactly from the Gyros Club, but rather the Jaycees, and it was 1967 not 1964. The Gyros have indeed maintained the tree but we’re happy to correct ourselves on its origin:
The Gyro Club’s community Christmas tree at the old hospital site may soon disappear with work ongoing at the Haisla Town Centre.
The possibility of losing the tree has divided some, with a loyal group of history-minded residents concerned for its possible loss.
That includes the Kitimat Gyro Club, who was responsible for planting the trees in the 1960s and maintaining the tree through it’s life.
At least immediately though the tree isn’t going anywhere, even if it looks like the developer is moments away from uprooting it.
The Sentinel did not get an immediate reply from Kerkhoff Construction through e-mail requests for an interview, but e-mails between Leonard Kerkhoff and the mayor show that the work being done right now is to connect the District of Kitimat’s utilities to their property.
The tree will stay for now, said Leonard in the e-mails to the mayor, until a plan is made to deal with it.
Mayor Phil Germuth shared the knowledge that the professional opinion so far given to Kerkhoff is that the tree relocation would cost $60,000 with no guarantee it will survive the move.
The uncertainty around the tree has the Gyro Club on alert.
We’re looking at different locations maybe with a different tree,” said long-time club member Chris Rigoni.
He said he’s heard the same reports that the tree may not survive an attempt at relocation.
They have no firm plans at this time though and will discuss new locations at a future Gyro meeting.
Rigoni says the tree was initially planted in 1964 by Kitimat’s Walter Bors.
“He wanted to get the Christmas tradition from his native Germany,” said Rigoni. “That’s how it got started.”
Also, in no small part, the tree was meant to give patients at Kitimat General Hospital something to look at.
“There was something [to] give them a little Christmas spirit seeing the tree decorated outside.” he said. “That’s what he planned it to do.”
The Gyros re-strung LED lights on the tree about six years ago, he added.
While the Gyro club is responsible for the tree, maintenance of it has gotten more challenging for members, he said.
“When your in your 30s or 40s most of the work was done by the members. Now everybody is reaching 60, 65, 70, and nobody is going to tackle going up on the tree.”