No, your eyes aren't deceiving you. It's mid-January and the Christmas tree on the Somerset Fountain Square is still up. And no, it's not normally up this long.
But who's complaining?
"There's just kind of a void when we take it down," said Dan Price, Deputy Judge-Executive for Pulaski County. "it enhances downtown more than anything, I think."
Usually, the tree — which is put up in time for the annual Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade around first week or so of December — only stays up about a week into January before its taken down. Following the purchase a couple of years ago of an artificial tannenbaum, an 18-foot-tall mock Spruce, that means the tree goes back into storage for another year until its ready to come out again dressed for the next holiday season.
But 2020 wasn't your average year. There was no parade, due to COVID-19 concerns. The tree went up, but rather than being lit in front of a large, Christmas spirit-filled crowd, it was done privately on a livestream. And for many people, it was a rough year, between the topical trident of politics, the coronavirus and its health and economic ramifications, and stressful headlines on social issues, to go along with the everyday, personal difficulties of life.
So why not leave the tree up, perhaps as a symbol of goodwill and hope?
"Oh gosh, yes, it's hopeful," said Price. "(We're) trying to get out of this dysfunction, this melancholy of what's going on at the national level. We've got to keep a sense of hope, you know."
Price said people noticed the tree once the new crosswalk signs went in, and shared positive comments about its appearance on the square. How long it will stay is hard to say at this point, but according to Price, it hasn't worn out its festive welcome yet.
"Our office was talking, 'Gosh, it looks so good at night, if we can keep it up longer, we're going to,'" said Price. "If people are still giving us positive feedback, we'll keep it up for a while."