Tree at Ground Zero to Honor Victims

By Katia Hetter
STAFF WRITER

December 2, 2002


As shoppers crowd into Century 21 to find holiday bargains, tourists walking along Church Street purchase pictures and hats emblazoned with the Twin Towers.

Across the street, a Christmas tree is scheduled to be erected tonight at Ground Zero for the second year in a row. The tree lighting is planned for Dec. 10.

"We did it last year to boost the morale of all the workers down there, and then to the families who knew about the tree," said Yonkers resident Donna Nolan, wife of Jimmy Nolan of Carpenters Local 608, one of the groups responsible for the effort. "We promise we'll do it every year."

As tourists took pictures through the fence surrounding the site Friday, construction workers unloaded the 32-foot Canadian balsam fir. It will be placed next to the Ground Zero cross, which was found during the cleanup and erected at Church Street between Liberty and Vesey streets.

Laborers Local 79 donated 3,000 white lights to represent the nearly 3,000 victims who died on Sept. 11, and individual ornaments for each victim, provided by victims' families and schools in Yonkers, will be hung.

Merrick resident Adam Harkin, who works at Ground Zero rebuilding the slurry wall that keeps out the Hudson River, joined other workers to construct a steel base for the tree.

"It's a nice thing to do and the right thing to do," said Harkin, a member of the dockbuilders union Local 1456.

Last year's tree was inaccessible to many victims' families. The tree, originally intended for the pre-disaster financial district, was escorted through barricades into the so-called "frozen zone" on West Street near the remnants of Six World Trade Center.

West Street was closed to public traffic last year, but its reopening in March meant the tree couldn't stand in the same place this year.

Several construction unions, companies and schools donated materials, time, and equipment to erect the tree.This year, other donors include the New York City District Council of Carpenters, DC 9 painters, Eurotech Contracting, Superior Acoustics, Pride, Atlantic Scaffolding, Yonkers Contracting, Tully Construction and Yonkers School No. 8.

"Just like last year, so many people came together to get it done," said Donna Nolan, her four sons by their father's side, helping construct a base for a menorah to be placed next to the tree.

This year, people who want to include an ornament for a victim of the terrorist attack can send them to Victims Tree, c/o Donna Nolan, 50 Stockbridge Rd., Yonkers, NY 10710 or Carpenters Union Local 608, c/o Donna Nolan Victims Tree, 43-46 Katonah Ave., Bronx, NY 10462. More information is available at www.digiviews.com/victimstree/.

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