WILKES-BARRE — Twenty feet off the ground, Anthony White Jr. looked as if he had done this before.
And for 13 years, he has.
“Since I started here,” White said Monday afternoon as he joined fellow Wilkes-Barre Department of Public Works employees and Falzone Towing Service on Public Square to put up a 40-foot blue spruce tree.
White extended the telescopic arm of the bucket truck into the branches of the freshly cut tree to wrap a steel cable around the trunk so that it could be tethered to a nearby standing oak. He retracted and lowered it hurriedly to get back on the ground to pull-start a chainsaw and trim the base.
The city’s annual Christmas parade isn’t until Saturday, but White and others knew the drill of getting the tree upright and in place.
The blue spruce was hauled by trailer from Academy Street, where it had hugged a house to be demolished. The driver of the DPW dump truck pulling the trailer maneuvered it into position and needed a lift from Falzone’s heavy-duty wrecker to prevent the truck’s front wheels from breaking through the metal grates of the dormant fountain.
Towing service owner Paul Falzone operated a radio-controlled controller hung from his neck while colleague Joey Falzone watched him hoist the tree from the trailer and hover it over the holder in the center of the fountain. White and other DPW employees took turns with the chainsaw to cut away the bark and slice off slabs of the base.
The wrecker not only has the capability to lift a maximum of 75 tons; it also can stretch its boom 35 feet to get to the load, Paul Falzone said.
The weight of the tree , estimated at 8 tons, wasn’t a problem, he said. The height, however, called for the long boom because “you need the reach.”
The company that has the exclusive towing contract with the city donated its services for the tree. The blue spruce will be decorated with lights and lit up after the parade, which begins at 3 p.m. Saturday.