SYRACUSE, N.Y. – A longstanding holiday tradition of debate over the lights on the City of Syracuse Christmas tree is coming to an end. The City announced that at the annual tree lighting ceremony on Friday, November 29 in Clinton Square, Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh will flip the switch on a more than four-story artificial holiday tree appointed with thousands of sparking colored LED lights.
The Department of Parks, Recreation and Youth Programs is sharing the news Wednesday in a video on social media (facebook.com/SyracuseParksRec). The Mayor and city staff, including Chief Operating Officer Corey Driscoll Dunham, Parks Commissioner Julie LaFave, and City Arborist Steve Harris, read samples of “mean tweets” and complaints the City has received in recent years regarding the city tree.
The Department of Parks, Recreation and Youth Programs estimates that the one time cost of acquiring the $50,000 tree will save taxpayers about $37,000 in labor and overtime costs each year. Over a ten year period, the new tree will save the City nearly $400,000, resources that can be put to better use delivering services to city residents.
“It’s the right decision on many levels,” said Mayor Walsh. “First, it’s a big tree with beautiful lighting. It will stand tall next to the Clinton Square rink surrounded by our city’s great architecture. Importantly, it will also put our city resources to better use. Instead of deploying a team of city electricians for three weeks to string lights up and down the tree, this tree will go up in less than a week, with no overtime costs. Other city work will no longer go on hold while the tree goes up.”
An artificial tree also solves another growing problem for the City. In recent years, the quest for a city Christmas tree has also become increasingly difficult as there are fewer suitable trees available. While some people have tall trees, few combine the appropriate height and width with the accessibility to be removed safely and hauled away with as little damage as possible using a single cut. With the holiday tradition in jeopardy last year, Onondaga County, at the eleventh hour, provided a healthy tree that didn’t need to come down from a county property.
“This decision also frees an area business from a costly obligation each year. JPW Erectors has donated the service of transporting and helping erect our tree for at least the past ten years,” Walsh said. “It’s a service worth about $15,000, and it’s just not realistic or responsible to keep relying on their generosity. Honestly, I don’t know what the city would have done without JPW Erectors, and I thank them for their kindness for so many years.”
The new tree will arrive in the City later this summer. Installation and decorating of the tree and Clinton Square is scheduled for mid-November.