Festive 45-foot-tall blue spruce snapped in half by wicked storm

By Melissa Fili
MethuenLife Magazine

  A gorgeous 45-foot-tall blue spruce that served as the backdrop for wedding photos – and even had a magazine cameo – was robbed of its chance in Methuen’s spotlight, courtesy of Mother Nature.

  After winning a social-media contest run by the Methuen Rec Department, the picture-perfect conifer was relocated to The Loop, near Marshalls, and decorated by DPW crews with colorful lights, topped off with an angel and surrounded by light-up deer and gifts. Rain forced the city to cancel its tree-lighting festivities … twice! Then came the vicious wind and rain storm of Dec. 18.

  “The tree snapped in half during the storm,” Recreation Director Steve Angelo told MethuenLife. “We had to cut it up (Dec. 19) before it fell. We unfortunately don’t have enough time to replace it this year.”

  It’s a big disappointment for Angelo and others involved in the behind-the-scenes work that got the tree to Methuen in the first place.

  Through the generosity of a Dracut family – whose property is believed to have Methuen roots – this year’s tree came to be!

  “We decided it’s way too big for our house at this point, so it had to go. I started calling around to see if anyone would take it because it would make a beautiful Christmas tree,” owner Donna Nardelli explained to MethuenLife last month, as Livingston Family Tree Service got to work. “(The Methuen Rec Department) asked me to send a picture and gave me an e-mail, but I never got around to it. Life got busy! My daughter was expecting her baby. And I never got around to calling anywhere else. Then I got a call (from Rec Director Steve Angelo) saying I won. … I was, like, ‘Huh?’ ”

  The Nardellis’ tree competed against one tree from Methuen and another from Haverhill in a Facebook contest run by Methuen Rec.

  “I got the address and came by to check it out,” Angelo said. “It’s a gorgeous tree and it got the most votes.”

  “We’ve been here 32 years and that’s about when we planted (the tree),” Donna said. “It’s even been in a magazine. My daughter got married during COVID in our yard and (her photographer) used (the tree) as a backdrop for pictures and it was submitted into Seacoast Weddings magazine.”

  The image ran in the 2021 issue – a full-page photo of a beaming bride being carried by her groom in front of the blue spruce – promoting the mag’s Resource Guide.

  The Nardellis live off Wheeler Street in Methuen.

  “Technically, our house is supposed to be in Methuen. Something got mixed up with the (property) lines (when it was being built), so we’re in Dracut but should’ve been in Methuen,” shrugged Donna, adding that long ago – when the tree was much smaller – they’d decorate it for Christmas while raising their three children.

  Her family now includes two granddaughters, and the plan was to stop by the tree lighting for one last photo in front of this extra-special blue spruce.

  “All my kids agree, it’s a bittersweet moment,” Donna said, in between sending them photos of the massive arbor being cut down and hauled away. “We’re gonna miss it. It’s a beautiful tree.”

  Angelo explained that cutting down a local tree for the city’s holiday festivities is “win-win”: “The home owner gets an unwanted tree removed for free and the city gets an amazing tree at no charge.”

  Methuen native Mac Livingston, of Livingston Family Tree Service, donates his time to this effort every year, as does Coady’s Towing which immediately hauls the downed tree to The Loop, via Methuen police escort. Crews from the Department of Public Works were on site for the removal, handled decorating the tree, and will return to the Nardellis’ home in the spring to grind the remaining stump.

  Methuen’s tree-lighting was to include live musical performances, pony and sleigh rides, food trucks, a visit from Santa and more. Let’s hope that next year, Mother Nature isn’t such a Grinch!