Deb Malewski
Contributing Writer

Larry Locke donated a tall pine tree from his yard on Center Street to serve as the official 2019 Eaton Rapids Christmas tree. The tree has already been taken down by city crews and has been placed in the circle at Hamlin Square near G.A.R. Island Park. The lights have been placed on the tree, but the switch to turn them on won’t be thrown until after the parade scheduled as part of the Hometown Family Christmas event on Saturday, Dec. 7. The lighting is expected to happen at approximately 6:30 p.m.
Locke said it means a lot to him to be able to donate the tree. He still mourns the loss of his wife, Beverly, who passed away in 2004.
“The holidays were something special to her,” Locke said. “Everybody came here.”
This year, Locke and his family plan to gather downtown around the tree and take a family photo.
“The guy that planted those pine seedlings didn’t know what he was doing,” he said. ““Of course, that guy was me.”
Locke guesses it was at least 25 years ago that he planted the small seedlings in the yard around their house.
Locke worked for General Motors but also served as an Eaton Rapids volunteer fireman and ambulance driver for 22 years. He retired from GM 36 years ago after working 31 years in skilled trades. His wife worked for the schools and was very active with the Eaton Rapids Volunteer Fireman’s Women’s Auxiliary. Locke will turn 85 years old in January.
Locke said he was happy to be able to donate the tree.
“I love Eaton Rapids. It’s my town.”