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Christmas comes early, permanent gift gained

Federal Way has adopted a small Christmas “orphan.”

But this adoption was not so much an act of charity as a celebration of community spirit.

That’s because the “orphan” is actually a 37-foot grand fir tree transplanted to the north side of the SeaTac Mall parking lot last week. It will become the city’s most conspicuous Christmas tree for years to come.

The fir had been at a tree lot in Snohomish County, waiting in vain for someone to buy it, explained Kelley Gast, mall marketing director. Now, it has a permanent home.

“As long as 320th (Street South) is here, this tree will be here,” Gast said.

In 50 years, the grand fir could grow to 100 feet.

However, “In the first year it won’t grow. It will be in a little bit of shock,” she said.

SeaTac Mall maintenance personnel will handle the grooming tasks each year.

The costs for the tree, about $2,500, including transport and transplanting, were footed by Lloyd Enterprises, SeaTac Mall and the Federal Way Firefighters’ Foundation.

Bob Cooper of Lloyd Enterprises said it’ll be great for the community to have a sense of permanence, even if the coming season’s tree is a shorter than residents have seen at the mall in recent years. In the past, Cooper said, the trees “were tall, but they weren’t very pretty.”

“We couldn’t have picked a better day to plant it. As cold as it is, it’s like Christmas,” Cooper kidded during the morning planting on Oct. 12.

Kevin Crossen, who was raised in Federal Way and now is employed with the local fire district, worked with the firefighters’ foundation on funding for the tree purchase. He brought his 18-month-old son, Trey, to see the planting of the tree that will become the focus of annual community festivities.

“It’s great for the community to have a symbol of something they can look at every year,” Crossen said. “It’s well overdue.”

The first tree-lighting ceremony with the new tree is just over six weeks away on Dec. 1. Community members have been showing up in force for the past two years. Nearly 500 were on hand at last year’s lighting.

Federal Way resident Sandra Lyle has attended the lighting ceremonies in the past, and said she’s glad to have a live tree for future generations to enjoy.

“I think it’s fabulous; the only thing is it’s too small,” said Lyle, vice-president of the Village at 330th Homeowners Association.

“It will be exciting to watch it grow,” Lyle said. “It will be a beacon.”

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