Locals brought out 75 trees this year for the annual collection program, down from last year, according to Mary Hardin Thornton, director of Keep Rome-Floyd Beautiful. She credits that to when Christmas fell this year, giving families plenty of time to take down their trees before this year’s event.
“I feel like people have grown to love and expect the event every year,” she said. “And to be honest, the fishermen are probably the most excited of all about this.”
And for good reason: all the trees brought out this weekend will end up in local lakes and ponds to be used as fish habitats. But it wasn’t always this way with the 23-year-old event.
In the years before Home Depot took over hosting “Bring One for the Chipper,” Thornton said Georgia Power simply brought one of their chippers used for clearing trees to help process the load of all the Christmas trees.
“And for as long as fishermen have been fishing, they’ve probably been grabbing trees to do this,” she said. “Christmas tree sinkings really came into vogue probably in the last 15 years.”
Thornton said Keep Rome-Floyd Beautiful typically has sponsors who will help them give away small items in exchange as a “thank you” for the trees, and this year was no different. Originally planning on giving away seed packs, Thornton was able to keep up her tradition of giving away trees in exchange for trees when Mike Brunson from the Georgia Forestry Commission donated 1,500 Virginia Pine tree seedlings at the last minute for Saturday’s event.
“And we like to hear about how our seedlings are doing when people bring their trees year after year,” she said. “One man told me that he moved his 10-year-old dogwood tree with him when he moved that he grew from a seedling we gave him.”