Image: Skip Van Wert

Perhaps symbolic of how many New Yorkers are picking up the pieces after Hurricane Sandy, a spruce tree that was also toppled by the storm has been given new life as a beautiful holiday tree for Long Beach Township. Raised by the Van Wert family in North Beach Haven, the evergreen was hoped to someday become one of the trees used to light up Rockefeller Center. After Hurricane Sandy uprooted the tree, the Van Werts were saddened and disappointed but still knew that it was destined for more than just a wood chipper.

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Image: Randy Morrill for The Sandpaper

The towering tree grew in the backyard of the Van Werts’ summer home in the sleepy seaside town over the years. As it grew taller and fuller, the family dreamed it could be a candidate for Rockefeller Center’s annual holiday tree, and planned to donate it one day after it reached optimum height. But Hurricane Sandy cut those dreams short, uprooting the tree (which thankfully did no damage to the house when it fell). Rather than wallowing in their loss, the Van Werts decided to see the silver lining, and also give back to their recovering community.

While the township was looking for the perfect tree for Long Beach’s annual tree light ceremony, the family put in a call to local police chief Mike Bradley, offering to donate their tree. Long Beach Township gladly accepted the evergreen, and was even able to save the funds put aside for procuring a tree.

The tree will now be a symbol for rebuilding and hope after the hurricane damaged the coastal town. Although it did not become the Rockefeller Tree, the Van Werts found more joy in recycling their beloved evergreen into Long Beach’s symbol for rebirth.

Via The Sandpaper

Images © The Sandpaper