By Selwyn Harris
A caravan of at least six vehicles traveled slowly up Highway 372 early Monday afternoon enroute to the Saddle West Hotel Casino with one large flatbed trailer carrying a symbol of the holiday season.
The community Christmas tree arrived just after noon to the delight of about a dozen local residents awaiting its arrival.
The tree, which stands more than 30 feet tall, came from JFP Christmas Trees in Grants Pass, Ore.
KNYE station owner Karen Jackson, who has organized the event for the second straight year, said it allows the entire community to come together to celebrate the holidays in grand fashion.
She also explained the logistics of how the tree was harvested from the dense forests of the Pacific Northwest.
“I get so excited, that I can’t stand it. They use a helicopter to bring it out of the forest and then they lower it on a truck to take it to Long Beach. Don Stout from Wulfenstein Construction meets them in Long Beach and they load it with a crane and he brings it to Pahrump for us,” she said.
Jackson noted that a number of local individuals and businesses contributed to this year’s celebration.
“Valley Electric provided a crane for standing the tree and they will decorate the top of the tree and put the lights on. At the bottom of the tree, for those of us who can reach, we will decorate it on Saturday at 10 a.m. The official Christmas tree lighting will take place at 6 p.m. that same night on December 1,” she said.
Nevada District 36 Assemblyman-elect James Oscarson will be tasked with flipping the light switch this year; that was handled by outgoing County Commissioner Gary Hollis last year.
Jackson said one lucky child will also be selected to assist Oscarson during the ceremony.
“We have the children write in to me telling me why they should be the one to help light the tree. I read them on air, let the community vote, and pick the child,” she said.
Letters should be sent to KNYE Radio, 2011 Dutch Ford Road, Pahrump, NV 89048.
Hollis, meanwhile, said aside from the official lighting portion of the celebration, the decorating part is the highlight of the day.
“That’s where Karen really gets her kicks, watching the kids decorate the tree. I was the first one to do the lighting last year and that was a big honor. The tree is 35 feet tall; it has a span of 14 feet, so it is a very big tree,” he said.
Hollis said Saddle West officials were very gracious in allowing the community tree to be set up on their property.
“They have a stake in this because we are using their land and Morales Construction made the hole to put the tree in. It is a community type situation and everybody worked to make it better and make the kids have a great Christmas. This is our second year but we are going to try and do this every year from now on,” Hollis said.
Local business owner Laraine Harper was in the lead vehicle of the convoy, which included several members of the Nye County Search and Rescue crew.
She said she was happy to be a part of Monday’s delivery.
“I was with Search and Rescue and we met them out at state line. Don Stout left very, very early this morning. He drove to Long Beach and picked up the tree. He took a little break and came back where we met him at state line. This is our second annual community Christmas tree and it is so exciting to be a part of it.
“Pahrump is such a great community and this tree is symbolic of how our community comes together, not just during the good times but particularly during the bad times. The tree is a good reason for all to gather, and, of course, we always like gathering on a good note. When this tree unfolds and when those limbs fall, it is going to be spectacular,” she said.
Jackson, meanwhile, said she will be a very busy woman on Saturday due to the tree decorating celebration and another event at a local car dealership.
She also said she hopes the weather will be a little more cooperative this year than it was during the first event.
“Even last year in the wind that we had, which was horrible, we had over 300 people there. Of course, we will have our usual cookies, hot chocolate and cocoa provided by Mountain Falls Grill Room. I just hope that everybody comes out and enjoys it,” she said.
Jackson noted that next year’s event will allow for anyone to contribute to the celebration.
“Whether it be $20, $100, or whatever, it’s for the community and they can give me a call at 537-6100 and I also want to thank officials at Saddle West for allowing us to put the tree there,” she said.