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Albany Christmas tree comes to town
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Albany Christmas tree comes to town

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The first week of December won't see a parade of cars weaving their way through the streets of downtown Albany. There will be no floats. No parade at all, and while Santa may still come, it'll be from a distance. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has stretched for 10 months and canceled graduations, proms, Easter events and the Albany Veterans Day Parade. And now, as the winter chill settles into the valley, traditional Christmas celebrations have been put off until 2021.

But Albany will still have a Christmas tree. 

On Tuesday, this year's city Christmas tree, courtesy of Weyerhaeuser, came rumbling into town on the back of a Ram Trucking flatbed. 

Weyerhaeuser donates the tree every year, and 2020's tree is a big one. 

"It's about 60 feet tall," said Weyerhaeuser forester Sierra Barfield.

Once the tree arrived at its usual spot at Two Rivers Market, it immediately got a haircut.

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"They had to thin it out so it could fit," Barfield said. "The tree came from our nursery, so it was open-grown, meaning it has no competition — that's why it's so full. If it had been grown on the farm, it might have been smaller."

Regardless of the tree's size, the corner of downtown it sits on is going to be pretty empty this year. 

Traditionally, the Downtown Twice Around Christmas Parade accompanies the tree lighting, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, everything is moving online. 

"The decision was made not to have an event that would attract a big crowd of people," said Lise Grato, executive director the Downtown Albany Association. 

Instead, there will be a Facebook Live event showing the lighting. Those who like Downtown Albany Association's Facebook page will receive a notification. 

"We'll still have Santa here and maybe the mayor, but we have to make sure they can all distance," Grato said. "It's a moving target." 

City crews are still set to decorate the tree. Lighting, as well as the bucket truck used in the tree's installation, will be handled by Pacific Power. The lights, the company said, will be powered by renewable energy through its Blue Sky program. 

In a year full of cancellations, Grato said the city's tree is still a signal that the holiday season has come to Albany — and that next year we may be able to celebrate in a more traditional sense. 

To view the tree lighting, like the Albany Downtown Association's Facebook page, which will send an alert when the live event is set to start. The date, Grato said, is a surprise, but the event will happen after the tree has been decorated. 

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