Raleigh bids farewell to landmark tree at Nash Square

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A massive Willow Oak tree that had stood in downtown Raleigh for more than 100 years was taken down Thursday.

People stopped by the area to see the tree one last time. Crews also gave away pieces of bark from it.

“That tree’s been here for a very long time,” said lifelong Raleigh resident Wesley Lawson. “I remember my mom walking me down these very streets back in 1978 when I was a kid.”

The tree was a memorable part of the view for those working near Nash Square or just taking a stroll though.

“I’ve been admiring this tree for 26 years,” explained Raleigh lawyer John McWillliam. “I work as a lawyer in the courthouse and I eat at the Berkley Café a lot, and it’s a great view of the tree. I’ve always just really loved it. It’s so huge.”

Crews started tearing down the massive tree around 9 a.m. Thursday, but it’s not an easy job.

The City of Raleigh said the tree became a safety hazard and limbs had fallen on people before so it was time it came down.

“It’s sad to see it go, but if it’s harming people it needs to come down I guess,” said Lawson.

Even crews made sure to give the tree the respect it deserves.

“This morning, we went through a little ceremony with the tree. We said some of the things that people have said to the tree that we found online and then the tree kind of talked back to us and let us know how it was feeling as well,” said Kenneth Ellis, supervisor at A+ Tree and Crane Services Inc.

Hunter Spicer grew up in Raleigh and he’s part of the crew tearing the tree down.

“I hate to see it go honestly, but at the same time it’s a hazard and it needs to, so to get to be a part of the crew that takes it down is really neat,” said Hunter Spicer, supervisor for A+ Tree and Crane Services Inc. “It’s going to stick with me for a while. It’s something I told my kids about.”

People came by all day to say goodbye to the Raleigh legend. Crews even gave people a little piece of the tree to take home with them.

“I think it’s nice that they’re cutting it into slices so everyone can grab a piece and do whatever with it and kind of share the memory,” said Raleigh resident Elizabeth Phelps.

Crews are hoping to have the job done Thursday night, but they did get a permit to close down the street Friday just in case.

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