HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – On Wednesday, Hattiesburg’s tree crew removed a nearly 20-year-old Leyland cypress tree at Town Square Park.
Officials said the tree sustained weather-related damage that could not be reversed.
“Because the tree plays a significant role in the holiday season, I commend our tree crew for working diligently over the last few years to keep the tree alive,” said Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker. “But with guidance from our city arborist before he retired and our tree crew, we knew it was time to safely take it down before it became a public safety liability.”
As the focal point for the city’s annual tree lighting scheduled for Thursday, November 30, 2023, city officials said the tree’s absence will not hinder the festivities.
“We know Town Square Park is a festive stop for all during the holiday season, and we will continue that tradition with an elaborate display of lights and seasonal decorations,” said Betsy Mercier, director of Parks and Recreation.
The Leyland cypress tree was originally planted post-Hurricane Katrina and has served as the official Christmas tree for nearly 20 years. Before then, the city celebrated its tree lighting event with a similar tree in front of Jackie Dole Sherrill Community Center.
The 2023 Tree Lighting event will take place at Town Square Park at 7:30 p.m., following the Jaycee’s Christmas Parade in Downtown Hattiesburg, on Thursday, November 30, 2023.