Wells Drug December
Feature St. Edward

State Capitol selects local tree to be lit at annual ceremony

QUITE THE HOLIDAY SIGHT — Kathy and Ron Benson, who live near St. Edward, stand in front of their nearly 40-year-old tree, which is soon-to-be the 2018 Nebraska State Capitol Christmas tree.

By Gabby Christensen
Nearly four decades ago, Platte County native and area farmer Allen Benson planted a tree on his land located about four miles east of St. Edward.
For the remainder of his life, Benson took great care of his tree and watched as it grew tall.
Although Benson passed away 21 years ago, the tree continued to thrive.
After his passing, Benson’s family wanted to do something special with the tree.
About three years ago, Benson’s son, Ron, reached out to the Nebraska State Capitol regarding its annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, which is now in its 71st year.
After Craig Kreiner, Capitol horticulturist supervisor, visited the concolor fir, it was decided that the tree would make the perfect official state Christmas tree.
Kreiner noted the remarkable branches on the tree.
Previous official state holiday trees have come from as far as Columbus or Arlington—but never quite this far from the Capitol.
On Tuesday, Dec. 4, the top 25 feet of the 35-foot tree was cut and taken to Lincoln for the annual tree lighting ceremony to take place this Sunday, Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. in the Capitol Rotunda.
The tree, which sat alone where Benson’s home used to be, was situated between two pivots.
Benson’s family partly credits this ideal placement for the tree’s height and beauty.
There were 11 individuals who helped get the tree to Lincoln for the special occasion. An additional 25 to 30 people will help pull the tree into the Capitol.
Hundreds of people are expected to attend the event.
In attendance will be Benson’s family and friends, who said the event will commemorate Benson’s life.
“My dad loved trees and I guess it kind of rubbed off on me, too,” Ron Benson said. “A lot of people don’t want to part with a tree like this, but my dad put a lot into this tree and this is a great honor to him.”