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Local couple donate overgrown spruce for Mitchell's Main Street

Larry and Sharon Pietz stand in front of the Christmas tree they donated. The Pietzes, who live in rural Mitchell, gave the blue spruce to stand on Main Street. (Chris Huber/Republic)

An annual tradition on Mitchell's Main Street is once again a great spectacle through a generous donation from a local couple.

Larry and Sharon Pietz, of rural Mitchell, planted about 60 pine trees 28 years ago to help create a shelter-belt on their farm northwest of the city. In total, to help protect their farm, the Pietzes have planted between 6,000 and 8,000 trees on their property.

In recent years, one blue spruce has been reaching its limit and nearly reached some power lines that run from a road to the house.

"When these trees were planted, they were a foot tall," Larry Pietz said. "We never realized that those trees would grow so tall and eventually hit those lines."

The Pietzes didn't want to destroy the tree, so their other choice was to donate it.

Larry Pietz's first thought was to donate the tree to a church or school for display. Then he and Sharon thought of their drives down Mitchell's Main Street at Christmastime and decided to offer it to the city.

So, Larry Pietz visited with Dusty Rodiek, Mitchell's parks and recreation director. Rodiek said many people come to the city with trees to donate, particularly for the Main Street Christmas display, which is located at Third Avenue and Main Street. He had many previous offers for the downtown display this year, but none of them fit the size parameters, which are about 17 feet wide by 30 to 35 feet tall.

Rodiek and Steve Roth, park supervisor, visited the Pietz farm about a month ago and found the Pietzes' 30-feet-tall blue spruce to be perfect. Rodiek and Roth later ventured to the Pietzes' farm to remove the tree and bring it downtown.

Mayor Lou Sebert helped bring back the community Christmas tree when he became mayor in 2006. He remembers the city displaying a tree on Main Street in the 1960s or '70s but isn't sure when the tradition came to a halt.

"I thought it would be ideal for our town at Christmastime," Sebert said. "Folks are willing to donate one, and we found a way to get it up."

Each year's Christmas tree is donated, Sebert said, as many people know of the tradition and want to help. Typically, the donations are trees that would otherwise be destroyed, like the Pietzes' blue spruce.

"When you destroy something, nobody gets anything out of it," Larry Pietz said. "This way everybody gets the chance to at least drive by and look at it."

Pietz said he's happy with how Rodiek and Roth took care of the tree that he and Sharon raised from a twig. They are particularly happy with how the tree looks downtown and hope everyone in the community enjoys it as much as they have.

The spruce is placed in a large tree stand inside a large stock tank, Rodiek said. It is also secured with wire strung from a building on either side of the street to ensure it remains upright.

The tree is a complement to the city's annual Parade of Lights, which will be Monday at 7 p.m. along Main Street. This year's theme is "Hollywood Christmas."

Rodiek said the tree typically remains on Main Street through the New Year.