Officials hope floating Christmas tree will become annual tradition

2013-01-09T19:45:00Z 2013-01-10T12:47:05Z Officials hope floating Christmas tree will become annual traditionDeborah Laverty deborah.laverty@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2223 nwitimes.com

HOBART | After a 20-year absence, a floating Christmas tree has been returned to Lake George for the holiday season.

"This year is kind of a test year," Mayor Brian Snedecor said.

The 25-foot lighted Christmas tree, off the Third Street Bridge, was launched on Christmas Eve and will remain in place until Tuesday, Snedecor said.

City officials plan to turn this year's test into an annual tradition.

Next Christmas, Snedecor hopes to coincide the lighting of the floating tree with the city's annual holiday tree-lighting ceremony at Festival Park.

Snedecor credits Virginia Curtis, a member of the City Improvement Committee, with pushing the idea first launched more than 20 years ago.

Snedecor said that nudge, combined with a team effort and financial support from local businesses persuaded him to go ahead with the idea.

"The vision of a floating Christmas tree is something a lot of seniors were asking for," Snedecor said.

The idea became a reality because of two men, Dwight Murdock, who works for Meade Electric, and Tommy Vaclavik, who works for Boyd Construction, Snedecor said.

Murdock and Vaclavik, who teamed up to create the original floating barge, built the new barge and put the lights in place.

"They took it and ran with it," Snedecor said. 

Murdock said the two men put everything together in 10 days.

Vaclavik, the engineer of the two-man team, said he put together the steel-tube base inside the basement of his home.

Then Murdock, an electrician, handled the hookup of the lights and the lighting of the tree.

City officials, the Public Works Department and the Fire Department assisted by hoisting the tree and making sure the barge was in place, Snedecor said.

"It makes a nice picture with the Hobart skyline behind the lit tree," Murdock said.

Boyd Construction also contributed money for the floating barge and Remus Farms provided the Christmas tree, Snedecor said.

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