This year, Gloucester’s Christmas tree is a home-grown one.

Brent “Ringo” Tarr, one of the organizers, said this is not an end to the decades-long tradition of Gloucester getting a tree from its sister city of Shelburne, in Nova Scotia.

Organizers just ran out of time to secure one from Canada, in large part due to the complexities of crossing the border during the pandemic.

“We want to keep the tradition going and we will try again next year,” Tarr said. “Instead, we had scouted around this area for some trees and we narrowed it down to two.”

Dan Mayer of Mayer Tree Service in Essex looked at them both and suggested the more than 40-foot tree on Englewood Road in Magnolia, which the Peek family agreed to donate in memory of Sandford “Sandy” Peek Sr.

The work began on Saturday around 7 a.m., after which some walkers and motorists saw the mammoth tree making its way toward the waterfront. But the roads are narrow, and the crew worked hard to make the roughly two-mile journey to Kent Circle on Gloucester Harbor as smooth as possible.

The tree had a humble beginning as a sapling that Rick Peek brought home from West Parish Elementary School one Arbor Day more than 30 years ago.

“He brought this twig home, and he and my husband planted it,” said Sally Peek, who was married to Sandy Peek for 52 years. “We had talked about cutting the tree down in the spring. And in the end, it worked out great with the tree coming down and the city getting a tree, too.”

But the timing of the tree removal comes with an uncanny twist.

The morning that the tree came down was the same morning that Sandy Peek was buried in the new cremation lot at Magnolia Cemetery, an effort that both he and his daughter, Lisa Ramos, helped bring to fruition.

Ramos said that the Magnolia Historical Society had adopted the Magnolia Cemetery, and that she and her father had been working on the cremation lot project for some time.

“But that October, we discovered that he had some back pain and sadly we found out he had stage four cancer, and we lost him in February this year,” said Ramos. “We were very close and I was fortunate that I got to have the most wonderful talks with him. We knew he was going to die and I feel so grateful that I had been able to have those conversations with my dad and let him know how much I loved him. and he said to me just days before he died that he wanted nothing more than to be buried in Magnolia.”

And now that has happened with the opening of the cemetery’s cremation lot.

“My dad loved Magnolia. He served on the board of the library and historical society,” said Ramos. “It’s ironic because about a year ago, my father said we should probably cut that tree down because it’s starting to come over the roof. But then he got sick and it went by the wayside.”

Family members plan to attend the annual tree lighting event at Kent Circle and no doubt will have countless memories flowing through their thoughts at the ceremony.

The tree lighting at Kent Circle will take place on Sunday, Nov. 28, at 4:30 p.m., with Mrs. Claus in attendance, manning a letter-writing table, and the children can “mail” their lists for Santa on site. There will be no parade beforehand this year.

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