Majestic home-grown Christmas tree will be used for big weekend

COLUMBIANA -This not a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. This is an at least 35-foot-tall short needle pine tree, and it has spent the last 24 years growing on a property in New Waterford.

Thomas D. Thorne first came in contact with the tree when it was a seedling in a cup. It was the late 1980s and he was a second grader at Crestview.

The tree was given to him for Arbor Day and he took it home and planted it on his parents’ property, next to the pine tree his older brother John Thorne Jr. received from his teacher when he was in second grade.

Their father, John Thorne Sr., recalled the first pine was beginning to sprout through the ground when Thomas’ tree was planted about eight feet away.

“Unfortunately, my oldest son’s tree got a strange disease and we had to have it taken down, but fortunately Tom’s has been growing faithfully all these years,” he said.

The tree is on the front yard of the property where Thorne Sr. and his wife Betty raised their children over the last few decades. The Thornes moved to New Waterford from Youngstown in 1977 after he decided to move his law practice to Lisbon.

Thorne Sr., now semi-retired, previously worked as assistant attorney general.

After graduating from Crestview High School, Thomas Thorne earned a bachelor of science degree in biology from the University of South Florida and is now living in Tampa, Fla., working in the hospitality services department for Walt Disney World Orlando.

He agreed to donate the tree to the city of Columbiana for its Christmas events this weekend.

Columbiana Tourism Bureau president Larry Deidrick said the search for a tree for the traffic circle downtown was difficult.

The bureau placed a notification in the newspaper announcing it was in need of a 35- to 40-foot-tall pine tree, which the city would cut, haul and display for the annual Light Up Night on Nov. 22.

A few people responded but their trees were in precarious locations that made it difficult for the city to access, Deidrick said.

He was beginning to lose hope, until seeing the tree on the Thorne’s property.

“It’s a beautiful tree. All 360 degrees it’s in pretty good shape. We got kind of lucky on this one,” he said.

Thorne Sr. agreed.

“It looks nice. There is nothing prettier at Christmas time than a big Christmas tree that looks nice,” he said.

The tree’s size was actually beginning to be a problem for the Thornes, however.

“The tree was getting big. It’s very pretty but it’s just simply getting too big. Tom didn’t want to have it knocked down or anything like that,” he said.

He tossed the idea to his son of donating the tree after seeing the notification in the paper, he added.

Deidrick said the city will be picking it up today in order to have it decorated for the Light Up Night event that will begin at 6 p.m.

Music for the event will be provided by the Heartland Christian Middle School Choir and a parade will begin at 6:30 p.m. Following the parade people will have an opportunity to take pictures with Santa in the Main Street Theater foyer for $5 and the downtown shops will remain open until 9 p.m.

The New Silver Eagle Band will offer a free concert at the Main Street Theater at 8 p.m. and the Joy of Christmas Light Show at Firestone Park will also open to the public that night at 7 p.m.

An $8 per vehicle donation is requested and the show will run every Thursday through Sunday from 6 to 9 p.m. until Dec. 29.

The drive-through show features more than one million lights and 60 scenes.