By MARGARET BROSKO
This year’s Light Up Louisville Christmas tree will be a 45-foot tall blue spruce donated by Thelma and Ben Alley of Louisville. When the Alleys moved into their house on Southern Parkway in July 1984, the couple remembers the previous owner, Mr. William Knapper, pointing out one unique feature. It was a blue spruce in the center of the front yard, standing about eight feet tall. Mr. Knapper told the couple the tree was given to him as a sapling by an Army buddy.
He planted the knee-high blue spruce and never thought it would amount to anything. But the Alleys watched it grow and the tree became a part of their family. In 1986, the tree was infected by spider mites and the top half looked dead. But Ben and Thelma refused to let it go. The couple got rid of the pests and nursed the tree back to health.
Over the years, the spruce, their house and their family were tied together. Visitors would be guided to their house by looking for the big blue spruce in the front yard – it couldn’t be missed. Over the last couple of years, the Alleys talked about cutting down the tree. “It’s taking over the yard,” they said.
In mid October, they had a new plan. Mayor-elect Greg Fischer knocked on the couple’s door while campaigning and commented on the beauty of the spruce. The Alley’s expressed their desire for a little more yard space. Fischer informed them of an article in the paper that very day with information that Metro Parks was searching for the city’s holiday tree. Thelma immediately called. She thought this was a great way to honor Mr. Knapper’s tree.
The Alleys are thrilled their tree was selected and immediately called their friends and family to share the news. They are looking forward to Light up Louisville and eager to share the tree they took care of for over 26 years with the entire city.