A Christmas tradition is ending

A Greater Pittston Christmas tradition of more than 20 years is about to come to an end. I received an email from John Grill that this is the last Christmas he will light the 60-ft. evergreen tree in front of his home at 85 Union Street in the Junction section of Pittston.
John and his wife Nancy have brightened the holidays around here for two decades with more than 10,000 lights on the tree and a star on top featuring 1500 lights alone. The tree is visible from across the Susquehanna River in West Pittston.
John, who made the star himself, says it’s “a star, within a star, within a star.” He climbs to the top of the tree and places it there.
About six or seven years ago, their son Jerry synchronized a musical track with the lights. If you park your car near the home and tune your radio to 99.9, you will hear Christmas music as the lights “dance” along. It is quite spectacular.
Jerry now resides in Bradford County where he is the assistant district attorney, but the musical system he devised still works fine, John says.
Lighting the tree is a big job, especially since John does it all by climbing up the branches. At 64 years old that’s a little harder than it was at 43, he says.
Because of his work hours, John can only get at the tree on weekends and since the weekends prior to Christmas were wet, making climbing treacherous, John was not able to complete the tree until Christmas Eve this year.
Even without the lights, the tree itself is pretty special. Already a giant when John and his family moved in 34 years ago, it was planted by the previous owners some 80 years ago when their little boy brought it home as merely a twig, given to him in school on Arbor Day.
John said he had the tree “trimmed and shaped” a few years ago by a professional arborist. For that, they used a bucket truck.
In his email John said the project is getting to be too much and the lights are near the end of their life so this is the last Christmas season to enjoy the tree. He encouraged me to “take a drive and enjoy the display” and I encourage all of you to do the same.
Thanks, John, for all your hard work over the past 20 Christmases. You added much joy to our holidays.

Ed Ackerman