It’s the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree no more.
After over a year of planning and fundraising, the East Islip Community Chamber of Commerce is getting set to replace the long-dead tree that had been standing in the heart of Islip Terrace.
The old tree was removed earlier this month and will be replaced soon with a $2,000, 18-foot spruce hybrid; hence the project’s name: Spruce Up in the Terrace.
“The tree was dead and everybody called it the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree,” said the chamber’s vice president, Gary Teich of Lee’s Auto Body & Glass in East Islip. “The problem was, everybody kept on hanging lights on this thing and that was the only thing holding the branches up over the years.”
Arborists told the chamber it was a fungus that had gotten to the the tree, and that it had been dying for at least three years.
Teich’s son, Matthew Teich, an East Islip High School graduate and freshman at Suffolk County Community College who was appointed to the chamber board as a youth member two years ago, led separate fundraising efforts to purchase new LED lights for the tree.
“A lot of people were very understanding,” Matthew Teich said. “We had a bunch of people come up to us and say it’s a great idea and just wanted to support us. A few were ready to write a check before we had everything set up.”
The elder Teich said the lighting committee exceeded its $1,200 goal, though the cost of lighting the tree will approach $2,000 because of necessary electrical work and anti-tampering measures.
Matthew said they know the lights they want, they just haven’t settled on a company yet.
Once the new tree is planted and the lights hung, the annual Christmas Tree lighting party will be held at the wedge park between Connetquot and Lowell avenues (map below) on Dec. 12, from 6 p.m to 8 p.m.
The lights will then remain on the tree year-round, with the chamber being able to switch up the colors at any time.
To fund the project, the chamber has been running networking events, 50/50 raffles and the Street Fair in August. Community members have also been sending in checks, Gary Teich said.
“We’re taking what we can, where we can,” he said. “And all of this goes right back into helping the community.”
“As long as I remember it was always dead,” Matthew said. “But this is the first first thing you see when you’re entering Islip Terrace. That’s what everyone sees as they’re passing through.”
Anyone else looking to help can make checks payable to:
EICC Spruce Up
P.O. Box 225, East Islip, NY 11730