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Family honoring loved ones by donating tree for Harrison Christmas celebration

November 20, 2018

A family with roots in Harrison wants to honor their departed family members by donating a tree for the township’s Christmas festivities this year.

The tree being donated by the Petracco family is a nearly 60-year-old, roughly 40-foot-tall blue spruce. Fulmay (Petracco) DiPerna and her husband Joseph DiPerna planted it in 1961 at their home on the Brackenridge side of Mile Lock Lane at Roup Avenue.

Lillian (Petracco) Bloom bought the house from her niece, Cynthia Adams, in 2006. Since 2014, the house has been owned by Lillian’s children -- Lydia Petracco, Linda (Petracco) Buchko and Peter Petracco.

Fulmay (Petracco) DiPerna and Joseph DiPerna were an aunt and uncle to the three siblings. Buchko, who lives in Harrison, said they built the house in 1955 and planted the tree six years later.

The donation came about after Lydia Petracco, a 1965 Har-Brack High School graduate who now lives in Shippensburg, contacted BeaverJack Tree Service to look at some bushes at the house, which they rent out. Harrison was going to be using BeaverJack to cut down and transport a donated tree to the grounds at Blessed Sacrament, and had put out a call for donation offers.

“As we were looking at that job, I asked him to come around and look at this blue spruce,” Lydia Petracco said. “It’s just getting too big for the space.

“While we were looking at the tree, he took some pictures and said Harrison Township is looking for a tree to be donated for the light up night for Christmas,” she said.

Lydia Petracco said the family made the decision together to donate the tree. It’s scheduled to be cut down and taken to Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament Church at Montana Avenue and Broadview Boulevard on Nov. 16, township Commissioner Chuck Dizard said.

The tree will be lit on Dec. 1, the day of Harrison’s third annual township Christmas parade and festival. It will stand at Blessed Sacrament until around the middle of January, Dizard said.

Dizard described the blue spruce as “more shapely” than the trees the township had for the first two events.

“This is a real find,” he said.“It’s just going to be a glorious exhibition for the Christmas season.”

Harrison had a big response to its call for a tree donation, with more than 40 inquiries from all over the region, Dizard said. The Petracco family’s tree was the one that had the right height and shape, and accessibility.

“The big issue is being able to get a tree down that’s that big, putting it on a trailer and getting it here,” he said. “Some of the trees were more distant. This one is close.”

Buchko said there’s no sadness over the tree being cut down.

“We feel that we’re doing something for our community,” she said. “We are happy to do this for our community.”

Lydia Petracco said her aunt loved the tree and believes she would be accepting of donating it.

“We feel some sadness in that it makes us think once again of our wonderful aunt and other relatives who are now gone. It’s a warm, loving feeling,” she said. “But life is a cycle, and what a beautiful way for the tree to be appreciated and viewed by many.”

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