Catrina Russell recorded the scene with her phone and looked abandoned. Part of her family history was dying.
But when Randy Bates of NatureScape used a chainsaw to separate a dramatically skewed tree from its Ocean Beach stump on Tuesday, Russell knew it was for the best.
“It’s a little ironic because I’m helping in the fight to save our palms. And here I am, felling this tree, ”said Russell, wearing jeans and sandals. “But I think it’s clear this tree is a danger. It’s pulling up the sidewalk. It’s growing over our neighbor’s house.
“It’s going out anyway.”
Outside, but not down yet.
After second-place status for four or five years, the Long Branch Avenue conifer was finally chosen as the OB Christmas tree that took its place in the sandy connection between Abbott Street and Newport Avenue. OB City Council pays for the project the week before the annual holiday parade.
Real estate agent Russell and her husband, Jason Dukes, a turnkey contractor, had lived in a one-story home from 2009 to 2007 after one of her girlfriends since seventh grade had rented there and planted a young tree in front.
“She’s the reason I moved to Ocean Beach,” Russell said of the friend. “She and her roommate planted” the tree, only a few feet high.
Years later, she and Duke’s bought the house.
“Got married. Had kids,” she said. Two teenage boys.
In an annual tradition, she would decorate the tree and surround it with light “without a ladder.”
But after watching it grow with a scary slope, far above a fence that was not removed until Monday, “we knew it was going to go away,” Russell said.
A saving grace: “It is very crooked … And it is a perfect OB tree. … Everyone… thinks it’s the coolest thing ever – that it’s going to be the OB Christmas tree. ”
The tree leaned to the far left (seen from the street) and was lowered into its last, temporary beach well house about an hour after it was felled.
Nikki Cory has been renting the Russell home since September.
A nurse at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Cory shares the house with a teacher friend.
“It’s super special. It’s the first year living in OB, and it’s really cool to see this,” she said. “So important things happen in OB to be a part of our home.”
Cory, a native of Maryland, says the house will feel empty without the guard post in the front yard – probably a star pine (also known as Norfolk Island pine, Polynesian pine or triangular tree).
“But it’s going to be cool to see it all decorated in front of the beach,” she said. “It’s such a funky tree. I love it.”
Said Russell: “Hopefully it’s the most crooked OB tree ever.”
Larry Thayer from Hawthorne Cat, who has been a part of the OB tree project for years, is used to OB Christmas trees being radically bent.
But referring to drunk patrons of Newport bars, he said, “It will look right at midnight.”