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70-foot tree sprouts overnight in downtown Portland! Monday, November 13, 2006

J. Seward Johnson's statue "Allow Me" seems to point at the Stimson Lumber Tree as it is unloaded at Pioneer Courthouse Square on Nov. 13. The 70-foot Douglas fir was cut in Gaston on Friday. The lighting ceremony is Nov. 24 at 5:30 p.m.

Every winter, Stimson Lumber donates a tree to the City of Portland to place in Pioneer Courthouse Square. It arrived in
a short parade with a band and police escort, as well as a marketing team from Cricket cell phone service, one of the major sponsors.

The main thing people should know, says Pioneer Courthouse Square employee Mahlin Shisler, "is what an awesome gift it is from Stimson to the City of Portland." Many other companies also contributed, he added, including Campbell Crane and Sunbelt Rentals.

It's more difficult finding a good tree for downtown Portland than for yourself. "At home," says Bill Akers of Portland Parks and Recreation, "you only have to look at one or two sides. Here, you see all four."

(left) Bill Akers uses a plumb line to help fellow Portland Parks and Recreation employees align the Stimson Lumber Tree at Pioneer Courthouse Square on Nov. 13.

What should you look for in a tree? "Straight as possible ... nice shape, nice top," says Shisler. They also have to make sure the branches aren't too brittle, so it can make it beneath the overpasses on its way to the square.

Most of the branches are cut off to transport the tree. They came in a second truck, and will be reattached this afternoon. Then city crews will put thousands of lights on the tree in time for the lighting ceremony on Nov. 24.

(right) The tree sits in a specially-designed hole in the middle of the square, supported by giant shims. Workers will construct a 5-foot tall "bucket" around the base.