A lot of cities put up a Christmas tree. But Pantego has taken the idea to new heights.
For the second year in a row, Pantego, to celebrate the season, has put a 12-foot-tall Christmas tree — complete with 300 lights and a bright tree topper — at the peak of its water tower near West Pioneer Parkway. When the lights are turned on, the tree can be seen for miles around.
“It is hard to miss a Christmas tree on the top of a 180-foot-tall water tower,” said Scott Williams, director of public works. “It is challenging to get it up there, and time consuming, but the response was so good last year it’s going to become a tradition.”
Pantego is a town of about 2,500 that is mostly surrounded by Arlington. It is mostly a community of rooftops with a small business district along Park Row Drive and Pioneer Parkway. In recent years it has put up signs and an archway to give it some identity. Its Bicentennial Park is another popular attraction.
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But for the Griswolds of the world, nothing may top the water tower tree.
Putting up the tree was Williams’ idea. He had seen water towers decorated for Christmas before, but typically it is a pole with some lights strung from the top to the tower. Williams wanted the real thing.
So the city bought a 12-foot-tall prelit tree with about 150 bulbs, then added about 150 more lights to give it more punch. To dress up the display, the city strung lights around the water tower’s top railing. Don’t look for presents; they aren’t there.
Getting the tree to the top also takes some effort. Public works employees, after climbing to the top through an internal passageway, pull the tree to the top in sections by dangling ropes over the outside. Once it’s on the top, they reinforce it to make sure it doesn’t blow away.
While most folks fear the ladder next to their house, these guys don’t think twice about it, Williams said.
“They gravitate to getting it done. The pleasure and the reward come after the fact,” he said. “A lot of people step outside their house and look south and see the Christmas tree there. ... It’s an added value to the area to celebrate the season and for everyone to enjoy.”
While this year’s tree was pulled up Tuesday, it won’t be turned on until Saturday when the city celebrates with a parade and Santa Claus at Bicentennial Park, where it has an earthbound 50-foot-tall Christmas tree. The tower tree will come on at dusk each night through the holidays.