Jack and Barbara Skidgel wanted to take a small reminder of their former Madras home with them when they moved in 2001. Now the tree is lighting up downtown Redmond.

A 20-foot-tall noble fir tree taken from the Skidgels’ yard near Quince Park in Northwest Redmond was lighted Sept. 24 as the city’s official tree in Centennial Park. Hundreds watched as the tree, adorned with ornaments, was lighted by Mayor George Endicott. The tree brings back memories for Jack, 74, and Barbara, 73.

“We brought it here when it was eight inches tall when we moved here from Madras,” Barbara said. “We never dreamed it would get that big.”

They dug up the sapling and brought it to Redmond and watched it grow over the years.

Within two-to-three years, it was above their five-foot-tall fence and grew over the neighbors’ seven-foot-tall hedges soon after.

“From there, it just kept right on growing,” Jack said.

“And it started expanding,” Barbara added.

The tree got regular water and lots of love.

The Skidgels decorated it each Christmas until it got too tall to reach the top with a ladder.

Eventually, it was too much for them to handle.

“The limbs were getting so big, it was growing over to our neighbors,” Jack said. “It was so pretty, I didn’t want to cut the limbs off the back side.”

So they decided to call Eric Sande, the executive director of the Redmond Chamber of Commerce to see if they’d be interested.

“He came out and looked at it and said, ‘Bingo!’ ” Barbara, who is retired from the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office, recalled.

The Skidgels’ tree was chosen from three or four trees the Chamber of Commerce got calls about, Sande said.

“Theirs was the most appropriate for what we need height and size wise,” he said. “We’re just really glad they were able to donate a tree for us. It’s beautiful.”

Eventually, Redmond could go to a permanent Christmas tree.

Sande said Redmond is considering planting an evergreen in the expanded Centennial Park, between the current park and City Hall, though it will take time for it to grow tall enough.

A tree that would have fit the bill that was previous on the park land was accidentally cut down.

For now, the Skidgels like the idea of the city having a tree that was grown right in Redmond.

“It’s not an out in the wilderness type tree, but it’s natural, not a cultivated tree,” Jack said.

The city came out with a crane to remove the tree on Nov. 13.

The city saved some pine cones that the Skidgels plan to make into a wreath out of for next Christmas.

Seeing the tree taken away was a more emotional experience than the Skidgels thought, with nests of turtle doves and quail having to be removed.

“It was like a child moving away from home,” said Jack, who is retired from Keith Manufacturing in Redmond.

While they miss the tree, the Skidgels look forward to being able to extend their patio.

When asked, they are clear they won’t be planting another tree.

“Did you say ‘yes,’ no we’re not,” Barbara told Jack, who agreed with her.

Besides, they can still go see their tree’s parent back at their old Madras house.

The elder tree, which they planted in 1972, is about the same height as the recently cut one.

— Reporter: 541-548-2186, gfolsom@ redmondspokesman.com

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