It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Franklin now that the official community tree has arrived.
"The tree is so mighty and full," Franklin events coordinator Ronnie Beith said Monday.
The 45-foot-tall, 7,000-pound pine was hoisted into position on a very busy Monday for all involved.
"These guys have emergencies all over the place that they're trying to get to after this," Beith said.
Adding pressure to the chaotic morning of fallen trees across the county that needed attention, Stover's Tree Service was handling the anchoring of the community tree for the first time.
The crew was far from green, however. With their own experience coupled with plenty of instruction from the man who invented Franklin's setup, Ed Turner of Paul Bunyan Tree Specialists, the tree was up and stable within a few hours.
Though this tree stands at just under 10 feet shorter than the behemoth tree of 2018, cutting down, transporting, standing back up, anchoring and ultimately decorating the tree still takes quite the village, one that has the entire process down to an art.
For the past six years, community members have volunteered to donate a tree. Then "Mr. Christmas" (Dan Weiland), scopes out the tree to ensure it's a good fit, and from there, Turner and Whalen Contracting crews assess if the tree can be extracted safely.
On the day the tree arrives at the Venango County Courthouse, Turner and his crew - this year joined by Stover's - cut the tree down and load it onto a flatbed supplied and driven by Klapec Trucking.
From there, crews set the tree up with a series of metal cables from Fastenal and a crane and lift from Industrial Truck & Crane Inc.
"We're so thankful for them," said Beith.
The lift will stick around until the tree is fully decorated with more than 40,000 lights by volunteers from the Franklin Arts Council.
From Wisconsin to Elk Street
This year's tree, donated by an Elk Street resident who wants to remain anonymous, sprouted from the soils of Wisconsin.
After Richard Castonguay, his wife, Alice, and their six children moved to Franklin, Castonguay's brother, Dennis, drove down and gifted the family with a piece of the tree farm where the brothers grew up.
Castonguay planted that young sapling in the backyard of his Elk Street home, and 45 years later it has become a symbol of hope and light for the community.
The owner of the former Castonguay home feels the tree can be a metaphor beyond the hope of the holiday season.
"It's meant to honor and thank all families who have planted roots in our city, state and nation," she said.
Ginny Castonguay, who married into the Castonguay family, said the tree is "needed" to help the community in these dark times.
"People can drive by and appreciate it here like it wasn't in that backyard," she said. "With this year and the way it's been going, people need this."
Even though Saturday's Light-Up Night won't be like any in the past, there are still reasons and ways to celebrate, Beith said.
Instead of the usual festivities, shops along Liberty Street will hold a customer appreciation night complete with door prizes and sales.
The Barrow-Civic Theatre's Christmas Tree Extravaganza will be lit up in Fountain Park, along with storefronts with New York City-like displays.
Live music will feature Rachael Mellor and Nathaniel Licht.
"We're asking everyone to be safe, wear their masks and social distance," Beith said.
It may look a little different this year, but Beith said the city is ready to help get everyone in the holiday spirit.
"We really want to help get that beautiful magic energy going," she said.