'Charlie Brown' Christmas tree in Pennsylvania gets lone red bulb

Sun Dec 7, 2014 10:40pm EST
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By Daniel Kelley

READING, Pa. (Reuters) - A scraggly Christmas tree in downtown Reading, Pennsylvania, was adorned on Sunday with a single red bulb, in a ceremony reminiscent of events in the animated holiday classic "A Charlie Brown Christmas." 

The decoration marked the latest turn in a lemons-to-lemonade tale involving the tree, derided as ugly by some who plotted its demise but seen by others as a reflection of the hardscrabble, U.S. rust belt city itself. 

"It's not about the size and shape of the tree, but about the heart of it," said local entertainer Dave Kline, 59, speaking at the ceremony, postponed from Saturday due to bad weather.

On a rainy day in November, members of Reading's public works department aborted their mission to obtain a tree from a local farm over concerns their truck would get stuck, said Jessica Didow, a city spokeswoman. 

Rather than waste the day, the workers instead cut a 45-foot tall Norway Spruce from a local ball field, she said.

Almost as soon as the lopsided tree, with its droopy, sparse needles went up, an outcry ensued.

One local resident said it was so ugly that birds would not land on it, local station WFMZ-TV reported.

The president of Reading's City Council, similarly unimpressed, raised money to replace it, and a new, spiffier tree was purchased.   Continued...

A lone red ball dangles from a 50-foot Norwegian pine, which has been described as Charlie Brown-esque, in Reading, Pennsylvania December 7, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Makela