Reading, Pa. chooses fake tree to avoid 'Charlie Brown' fiasco

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The city of Reading is already thinking ahead to Christmas and a new Christmas tree. (WPVI)

It was two years ago when Reading, Pennsylvania made international headlines when the city erected a scraggly Christmas tree on Penn Square.

It was roundly referred to as the "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree, likening it to the scrawny sapling from the Peanuts holiday classic.

Reading Mayor Wally Scott says he still doesn't understand all the hoopla - he loved the tree.

"I see beauty in everything and thought that tree that was the 'Charlie Brown' tree, it deserved a Christmas the same as the [cartoon] 'Charlie Brown' tree," Scott said.

In fact, a piece of that tree remains in the city.

Local officials used the wood to create a commemorative bench that sits inside City Hall to this day.

Still, to avoid the unexpected publicity stirred back in 2014, Reading officials have signed off on a plan to post a 35 foot artificial tree this year at the corner of 5th and Penn streets.

Mayor Scott also says that while he has always preferred live trees, it really is a waste.

"I wish I could get another tree like that and put it downtown, but I'm sort of getting away from cutting trees down, because that tree would still be alive today," Scott said.

The giant aluminum tree comes with a $20,000 price tag, but private donors are picking up the tab including a $17,000 donation from the First Energy Foundation.

The artificial tree will boast 1,250 ornaments, more than 1,900 lights and a 5-foot star.

Many of the people Action News spoke with in Reading say it doesn't seem right for the city to have an official Christmas tree that's artificial.

But they say they can't argue with the mayor's logic.

"The way people just chop down trees, you put it up for 30 days then you throw it away, it seems kind of a waste," resident Ed Terrell said.

The lighting ceremony for the brand-new artificial Reading City Christmas tree will be held on the evening of Saturday, December 3rd.

The tree should last 15 to 20 years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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