FAIRBANKS — The beloved spruce tree which stands in front of the Farmhouse Visitor Center at Creamer’s Field is nearing the end of its life.
Because the 90-year-old tree is dying, the Alaska Department of Fish & Game has made arrangements with TJ’s Land Clearing to have it felled on Monday to avoid safety hazards.
The white spruce, planted by the Creamer family in the 1930s, has held a special place in the community by fulfilling many roles throughout the years. In warm months, children have known the spruce as the “tree room,” a place to hide or take cover on a rainy day. In winter, the spruce has become a community Christmas tree during the annual Friends of Creamer’s Field Tree Lighting event.
“A volunteer crew from GVEA came by on Tuesday to take down the Christmas lights and the star” said Christine Huff, executive director of Friends of Creamer’s Field. “Watching the lights come down was really sad. The tree is a much loved Creamer’s Field icon. It will be missed.”
A First Friday art event has been planned for tonight as a way to celebrate the tree’s life, as well as a way to inform the public about its loss. Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game biologist Mark D. Ross will be on hand this evening to answer questions pertaining to the tree’s decline.
“In Celebration of the Tree” will be the first First Friday art event held at the Creamer’s Field Farmhouse Visitor Center and will feature works from more than 15 local artists, including Randall Compton, Daniel Kennedy, Gail Priday and Vladimir Zhikhartsev. While some artists chose to depict the Creamer’s Field spruce tree, the theme of the show was open to all trees including pieces made from trees, such as carvings by Philip Marshall and pyrography works by Adam Owen. Sales of artwork at the First Friday celebration will serve as a fundraiser for Friends of Creamer’s Field, the nonprofit group that provides educational programs on the refuge year-round.
In addition to artworks celebrating the tree, there are plans to allow local artists to obtain wood from the 70-foot white spruce once it is taken down so that the tree’s legacy will continue as works of art. The wood, which will belong to Friends of Creamer’s Field, will be available to artists who agree to donate a portion of artworks created back to Friends of Creamer’s Field for selling in their gift shop or as part of a future art show featuring items made from the Creamer’s tree.
“In Celebration of the Tree” is slated for 5-8 p.m. tonight at the farmhouse at 1300 College Road. For more information, call Friends of Creamer’s Field at 452-5162 or visit the website at www.creamersfield.org.