Seventeen years ago, in celebration of Arbor Day, Erin Gorrell received a 5-inch-tall pine sapling. She and the other students at Shreve Elementary School were given the sapling inside a plastic bag along with a note about how trees benefit people and the environment.

Erin took the tree home and she and her family committed themselves to making it grow. They grew it inside their home until it was about a foot tall and then picked a spot in their yard to plant it. They decorated the tree every year for Christmas with more and bigger ornaments every season until about six or seven years ago, when the tree got too big to decorate.

Wooster lineworkers Kevin Croskey and Michael West volunteered to lend a hand.

The Gorrells love their tree; however, they planted it too close to their house and it grew so big that it needed to be removed. They decided to donate it to the city of Wooster for its annual tree lighting ceremony.

AEP Ohio’s Wooster service center typically sends a line crew every year to help decorate the tree. This year, Kevin Croskey and Michael West volunteered to lend a hand, parking bucket trucks at the intersection of West Liberty and Market streets and stringing lights and paper chains high atop the 30-foot-tall tree.

Friday, Nov. 19 was a cold but clear night. About 1,000 people turned out for the holiday festivities downtown, including the lighting of the tree and – moments after – the fire department’s traditional rescue of Santa Claus from the roof of a nearby building.

The entire Gorrell family (including Erin, who is now 28 years old and lives out of town) attended the event to see their beloved tree in all its resplendent glory for one final time.

Published November 22, 2021

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