Good Grief: Economy Forces XMas Tree Downsizing

By Andrew Greiner
|  Tuesday, Nov 3, 2009  |  Updated 5:48 PM CDT
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A version of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

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Will Smaller Tree Damper Holiday Spirit?

The city's sad budget means a much smaller Christmas Tree this year will adorn Daley Plaza.
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It's going to be a whimpy Christmas in Chicago.

Need proof? Consider the sad sack tree the city has settled on for it's official symbol of the holiday season.

Daley and company are using a single, donated, 56-foot blue spruce for it's downtown display.

Last year, the city put up a 90-foot-high tree that was actually made up of 113 smaller trees. This will be the first time since 1955 the city has skimped on its arboreal accoutrements.

What's worse about this year's display is the tree, which was donated by a Palos Heights family, has a hole in it that officials will have to patch with extra branches.

In other words, the city plans to feature a giant version of the Charlie Brown twig.

Special Events chief Megan McDonald says the municipal tree has carried a price tag in "the low six figures" in recent years. She says the city expects to spend half that this year.

"I dont think people will notice this huge difference," she said.  "It will still be as beautiful.  We'll still have great programming on the plaza, people will still get to see Santa Claus and shop at the Christkindlmarket."

The tree will be decorated with 7,000 energy-saving LED lights donated by Underwriters Laboratories.

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