For decades, a stand of spruce trees in the yard of the Fleming Cats construction business just west of the Lac La Biche hamlet grew with the business and with the Fleming family. Even after Lloyd Fleming retired and sold the business a decade ago, the trees had a few more feet to climb.
Last year, due to the age of the trees and increasing dangers they could fall onto a nearby residence, several of the big timbers were carefully cut down by a local company. Most of the lumber was chipped or used for firewood. The last of those trees was plucked from its long-standing spot in the middle of the Fleming yard on Sunday — but this one will have a few more weeks to stand tall in a different location.
Using a larger picker truck, Lac La Biche Transport donated their resources to the Downtown Light Up event by cutting the tree, lifting it onto one of their truck trailers, hauling it to a specially-made tree stand in front of the downtown Lac La Biche offices of Northern Lights Public Schools, and dropping it into its new resting place.
For the next two days, crews from the regional Fortis office donated the use of their boom trucks and staff to carefully place a star on top of the 50-foot tree and wrap the giant spruce in more than 1,800 Christmas lights.
The centre-piece of the Friday, November 26 Light Up the Night Christmas parade and downtown business sale will be officially lit on this Friday night, following the parade. The 2021 Lac La Biche Junior Citizen of the Year will flick the switch following the parade to light the big tree.
Organized by a committee of local volunteers, business people, elected officials and the local chamber of commerce, the Light Up the Night Committee says Friday night's event will follow Alberta Health Services pandemic measures.
Friday night's event is also part of a busy weekend for the Lac La Biche community, as Fleming's giant spruce will be joined by dozens of much smaller Christmas tree versions at the annual Festival of Trees events taking place at the Bold Center. Along with the fundraising raffle of donated and decorated Christmas trees, the Festival of Trees will take over the Bold Center with a craft show Shopping Extravaganza, local artwork, and free skating sessions. The Festival of Trees runs all weekend at the Bold Center.
The Light Up the Night events run on Friday night, starting with the parade at 6:30 pm. The night-time parade will start at the Lac La Biche Museum and roll along Main Street to the NLPS building and the big tree. Entries can still be filled out for groups or businesses looking to enter the parade. Deadline for submitting an entry is Thursday, November 25.
The big downtown tree is expected to remain in the location until mid January of next year, shining its lights on the holiday season through to Ukrainian Christmas.