Tuscaloosa County is going artificial this year for its annual Christmas tree display in front of the courthouse.
“There are a lot of man-hours that go into setting up a real Christmas tree on the front lawn,” said Ryan Sabbagh, the county maintenance superintendent. “We think an artificial tree may be the way to go.”
Previously, the county has used a real tree donated for the holiday display in front of the courthouse.
The 26-foot-tall artificial tree will be delivered in time for display this holiday season, Sabbagh said. The county’s tree lighting ceremony is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Dec. 13 ahead of the annual Christmas parade.
The commission on Wednesday approved purchasing an artificial tree for $16,785 based on a low bid from Wintergreen Corp. The price includes shipping for the artificial tree, which weighs more than a ton.
“This is an issue that has bumped around in (recent) years,” Tuscaloosa County Commission Chairman Rob Robertson said. “We spend a lot of man-hours. We spend this much each year to do the tree.”
The switch is expected to save the county money in man-hours and equipment rentals, Sabbagh said.
Sabbagh did not have an estimate of the cost of using a live tree, but noted county workers previously had to locate, transport and install a live evergreen each holiday season. The process took about a week, he said. The artificial tree can be installed faster and with fewer resources, he said.
For the first year at least, the new tree will be shorter than the real trees used in the past. In years past, the county solicited donations of trees at least 40 feet tall to display.
The artificial tree purchased by the county will be 26 feet tall and about 17 feet wide at the base, with the capability to be lengthened in 3-foot sections, Sabbagh said. The tree also comes with 2,000 LED lights.