By Jim Hayden
A decades-old tradition will shine again this weekend when the new Harbor Christmas Tree is lit.
An 80-foot tall tower on a trailer will support strings of holiday lights in the shape of a Christmas tree at the south end of Butler Street, near where community members for more than 20 years maintained a barge of holiday lights.
Saugatuck City Council Monday approved a lease agreement with Sean Steele, owner of the land-based telescoping mobile cell tower, so the display could be ready for lighting Saturday, Dec. 2. The lease allows the city’s insurance to cover the structure, according to city manager Kirk Harrier.
Steele first proposed the idea in September to revive a community tradition.
A Christmas tree barge docked at the end of Butler Street in Kalamazoo Lake for more than 20 years. Volunteers assembled the display of 3,200 lights attached to a pole to form a Christmas tree shape that, topped with three stars, each 8-feet tall, was visible from across Blue Star Highway and the entire Saugatuck and Douglas community. The display was destroyed in a storm in 2013 and was not rebuilt.
The city plans to purchase the new tower and maintain it but needs to raise $27,000 to do so. So far, the Saugatuck-Douglas Convention and Visitors Bureau donated $13,000 and Cow Hill Yacht Club $1,000. On Monday, Saugatuck-Douglas Area Business Association marketing manager and administrator Gregory Muncey presented the city with a $3,000 check for the tree.
“We look forward to seeing that lit up,” Muncey said about the display.