Tree with LI roots to serve in Christmas display
It was back in 1959 when World War II veteran John Parmenter and his wife moved to the suburbs in Smithtown. With their first child on the way, they planted a spruce tree in celebration of their new home and new life.
The Norway spruce served as the family's Christmas tree. Parmenter, a crane operator who helped build the Verrazano Bridge, would bring home a cherry picker so he could get up high enough to decorate it.
Over 55 years, the spruce grew big and strong, to an impressive 70 feet tall. The Parmenters' son, also named John, grew up himself.
"This tree saw me grow from a little guy to a big guy, and now I have my own son, and my son's a big guy now," he said.
And so it was a bittersweet moment today when the spruce was chopped down: a little sad for the man who grew up under its shade, but also joyous because the spruce will become the Christmas tree for all of Long Island.
The tree, weighing in at 10,000 pounds, will be put on display at the Rex Corp. Plaza Skating Rink in Uniondale this season. It's the first time a tree from Long Island will be used.
The younger John Parmenter says his parents, who have both passed away, loved the tree and would be thrilled to know it was picked to be Long Island's Christmas tree.
"This is a Christmas present for my family," he said. "It's a pretty cool thing."