Macy’s Great Tree to be artificial this year

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree. How lovely are your fake branches?

If you’re a fan of holiday traditions, brace yourself Atlantans. No longer will Georgia-grown trees vie for the chance to be the Macy’s Great Tree atop the Lenox Square store. This year’s tree wasn’t grown at all. And it’s moving to the parking lot.

For the first time in six decades, an artificial tree will be used as the iconic start to the holiday season in Atlanta, the retailer has announced. No falling pine needles from the new 56-foot-tall tree.

The new tree, made by the Alpharetta-based Christmas Lights, Etc., is the company’s way of protecting the environment and saving energy, according to Michael Krauter, Macy’s president and regional director of stores.

Rather than uprooting a tree every fall, the new Macy’s tree should last at least 10 years, a spokeswoman for the manufacturer said. The company’s trees are already on display at Macy’s stores in San Francisco and Chicago.

“They feel real, They look real,” Hillary Zody told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s not changing a tradition, it’s evolving a tradition. It shouldn’t take any joy from what this wonderful holiday is about.”

But for many people, news of an artificial tree was harder to digest than a Thanksgiving feast.

“I get it, but I don’t like it,” Shelley Hendrix of Canton said. “It’s sad when traditions go away. It’s not the end of the world, but it is disappointing.”

It’s not the first move for the Great Tree. The brightly decorated tree was first mounted atop Rich’s downtown store in 1948 before moving to Lenox in 2000. In 2005, the tree’s name began to incorporate Macy’s, which it assumed officially when Rich’s stores became Macy’s.

In recent years, the Great Tree has proved to be a great hassle, but it’s not clear if that had anything to do with Macy’s decision.

In January, the 2012 tree, a 60-foot white pine, fell, puncturing the roof of the third-floor men's department. No one was injured when the tree fell. And in November 2011, the 60-foot Douglas County pine that was supposed to top Lenox cracked as it was being hoisted up. The back-up tree was cut down the next day and made it to Buckhead in time for its Thanksgiving night lighting.

This year’s tree lighting will begin at 6 p.m. following pre-show entertainment at 5:15 p.m. The lighting will televised on Channel 2 Action News.