Christmas tree planted in Town Square

The Town Square in Elkins just received a new addition for the holidays.

A new Christmas tree was planted behind the Elkins Depot as a gift to the community Wednesday. It is the first Christmas tree to be planted at the Depot and is meant as an attraction not only for local residents but also for the tourists who visit during the holiday season.

The tree, a 12-foot-tall Norway Spruce, was donated and delivered thanks to many different agencies throughout, and even outside of, the community. The seedling came from Pike’s Peak Nursery in Indiana, Pa., but was grown locally at the confluence of the Tygart Valley River and Leading Creek by Moss Nursery, courtesy of Dr. Kent Moss, Rita Moss and Aron Moss.

The tree was dug and burlapped by Gary Holland and his family, Jodi, Junior and Clyde, at the Holland Nursery in Oakland, Md. The tree was then transported by local builder Sam Lewis and planted by John Cunningham of Cunningham Excavation.

It was donated by Moss Nursery to the Elkins Decorating Committee, which consists of Nancy Barlow, Elaine Geisel and Kathy Vance.

Vance, who also works with the Welcome Center in Elkins, said the tree was something many members of the community and tourists have suggested for some time, particularly those participating in the Polar Express, one of the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad’s special train rides.

Inspired by the movie “The Polar Express,” which in turn is based on the children’s book of the same name, the train gives children and parents, encouraged to wear their pajamas, the opportunity to visit the “North Pole.” Families are also treated with dinner, music and a bonfire, for roasting marshmallows.

Vance said the event has grown so much in popularity that it has sold out the past two years and, out of the 14,500 tickets available for this season, only 8,000 remain.

“We’d have people who were telling us that the only thing that was lacking was our very own Christmas tree,” Vance said. “Now we have the opportunity to add that to the experience.”

Vance said the Welcome Center would not have been able to get the tree without the support of the community, including the Randolph County Development Authority, which gave the Welcome Center permission to plant the tree.

“It’s a symbol of unity,” Vance said. “Another project that is bringing the community together. It’s a great addition to the Railyard.”

The tree is scheduled to be decorated on Nov. 4-5, featuring more than 1,500 LED lights. The community is invited to come and enjoy the tree, not just for the holiday season, but year-round.

“Everybody needs a Christmas tree.” said Ed Greisel, president of the Welcome Center’s Board of Directors. “And now we can share one.”

Donations for the Welcome Center can be sent to the Elkins-Randolph Chamber of Commerce at 200 Executive Plaza in Elkins.