Rt. 7’s Christmas Cheer Given New Roots

Douglas Graham/Loudoun Now Cars zoom past the new Leesburg Rt. 7 Christmas tree heading east. The tree now sits on the east bound off-ramp of Rt. 7 and Market Street. Construction crews unceremoniously removed the old tree that had been decorated for the past 40 years in the median as part of the highway widening project now underway.
Douglas Graham/Loudoun Now Cars zoom past the new Leesburg Rt. 7 Christmas tree heading east. The tree now sits on the east bound off-ramp of Rt. 7 and Market Street. Construction crews unceremoniously removed the old tree that had been decorated for the past 40 years in the median as part of the highway widening project now underway.

Like its predecessor, most motorists haven’t noticed it yet. And they won’t until early December when a group of volunteers adorn it with lights, tensile and ornaments.

The Rt. 7 Christmas tree is back.

For the past 40 years, Rt. 7 drivers have seen a decorated Norway spruce in the median just west of Leesburg during each Christmas season. When the tree was removed last spring as crews widened the highway and many residents wondered whether that tradition also would be lost from Loudoun’s ever-changing landscape.

It will not.

As Shirley Contracting Company works to wrap up the project in coming weeks, it recently planted a new tree—a 14-foot Norway spruce—at the westbound off-ramp to West Market Street.

Among those frequent Rt. 7 drivers who bemoaned the loss of the holiday tree was Catoctin District Supervisor Geary Higgins (R). He persuaded the Virginia Department of Transportation to replace the tree. He worked with Farid Bigdeli, VDOT’s Transportation and Land Use director for Loudoun County, to make that happen.

Higgins was not alone in the effort. When Shirley Contracting had to cut down the old tree, they offered to donate a replacement, VDOT representatives said. Rick Meyer, a Shirley Contracting worker from the Purcellville area, contacted Jay Frye, president of Blake Landscaping, and the two got together to see what could be done.

The end result was a tree donated by Shirley Contracting and planted by Blake Landscaping—a tree that didn’t cost the state or the federal government a dime. “We’re very happy we could get it done,” Meyer said.

Just who decorated the tree each year was largely a mystery. One day the Norway spruce would be bare—then—overnight, it sparkled with lights, ribbons and countless decorations. Rumors long abounded as to who was responsible, but it was not until the tree was removed that the volunteers came forward publicly.

Bill Bosley said he had decorated the tree for 40 years, along with his brother Jim initially, and later with Joe Marker and Mike Breedon.
In the beginning, Bosley saw the little tree—then only 4 feet tall—in need of a friend and started the great Christmas caper as a gift to the community.

After Jim died, Bosley, Marker and Breedon continued the work—to such an extent that there was an outcry when the tree ultimately was cut down last spring. The contractors gave sections of the tree to the men as keepsakes.

Will Bosley and his elves return the task?

“We’re not going to tell you,” Bosley said, chuckling, last year.

Contact Margaret Morton at mmorton@loudounnow.com.