by Victor Lopez
ODESSA--It's hard for anyone who's visited the park or driven down I-20 to miss the giant Christmas tree. That's what makes it all the more strange to go out now and not see it at all, less than a week after it was officially lit.
"McKinney Park sustained a lot of wind (Tuesday). Unfortunately it did take out our Community Christmas Tree," Odessa Parks and Recreation Director, Steve Patton, said.
The 50 foot, $50,000 tree was equipped with support structures and guide wires and rated to withstand winds up to 60 mph. But it was no match for Mother Nature.
"All the support structure inside, kept everything intact, so it just fell upon itself. That's a good thing, in that with all that support structure collapsing upon itself, we didn't have pieces of our Christmas tree blowing down the Interstate, disrupting traffic, which would be a real, real problem," Patton explained.
That means bad news for Starbright Village.
"Unfortunately, all of the support structure is totally destroyed. We are dismantling the tree and it is not repairable. We're not going to have a Community Christmas Tree," Patton said.
Patton went on to say, other areas of the park got hit too, just not as bad, "The smaller arch, at the front entrance as you enter into the drive through, the first arch did blow over. It twisted a little bit, but I think we'll be able to repair it."
There was the expected loose electrical cords and broken bulbs, but Patton says he was surprised to find another display survived the wind, virtually unharmed, "Actually I thought that our big trumpet would be the first to go down, because the trumpet itself is 40 feet tall and 60 feet wide. That thing is acting like a big sail."
Crews were on site since the tree fell on Tuesday. While it won't be part of the rest of this year's display, according to Patton, the show must go on, "Our game plan is to be open tonight and be ready to go for the rest of the Christmas season. We are in the process of filing our insurance claims. It is replaceable and we will have another, new tree, next year."
Weather permitting, Starbright Village will be open nightly until New Years Eve.