WWII Vet’s Memorial Tree To Be Centerpiece Of Anoka’s Holiday Celebrations

23November 2021

ANOKA, Minnesota (WCCO) — While she was growing up, Kris Hora says her dad Charles Byers was meticulous about Christmas. He loved decorating, getting together with family, and giving gifts, but not receiving them.

“In fact, his favorite saying when you’d ask him, ‘What do you want for Christmas?’ was, ‘All I want is peace and quiet,’” Hora said.

When Byers passed away, Hora and her husband honored him by planting a spruce tree in their front yard. Some years they even put lights on it.

“It’s been a soft spot in our hearts to remember her dad, and a way to give him a place in our lives here,” Galen Hora said.

What they didn’t know was just how big the tree would get. After 20 years it grew 35 feet tall. So when the city of Anoka said they’d love to have it for their downtown display, the Horas agreed.

“My kids are a little sentimental. At first they were saying, ‘What are you doing that for? You can’t get rid of dad’s tree.’ Then they said, ‘No, this is a nice way to honor him,’” Kris Hora said.

On Monday morning, tree removers showed up with trucks and chainsaws. They had the spruce down in about an hour. Once safely secured, they used back roads and side streets to haul it five miles away to its final destination outside Anoka City Hall — a giant Christmas tree on wheels.

For the very last time the tree will be covered in lights, but this time it will be for an entire city to see. An official tree lighting ceremony will happen on Dec. 4 in downtown Anoka.

Kris Hora thinks her dad would have loved it, a family memory for others to enjoy.

“When I was a kid, especially at Christmas time, our house was a warm, wonderful place. There was so much love. So this is another way to keep that memory going,” she said.

Byers was a World War II veteran, so the Horas plan to plant a service-berry tree in his honor next spring. They hope that one doesn’t grow quite so tall.

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