The 100-foot Norway spruce in front of Nevada's capitol may be headed toward retirement as the state's official Christmas tree but, with nearly 1,000 new lights, it won't simply fade away.
A blue spruce was planted 30 yards away about two weeks ago.
"So we'll have another tree to replace it," said Buildings and Grounds Administrator Mike Meizel, adding the older tree will eventually have to come down.
But not this year.
The old Norway spruce will share duties with the new tree when the Gov. Kenny Guinn and first lady Dema Guinn throw the switch Thursday, illuminating nearly 1,300 lights on both trees.
To make sure both trees look their best, state officials decided to replace the old strands of lights on the Norway spruce to match new lights on the its smaller protege.
For the third time in his 15-year career, Blaine Mathes of American Sign and Crane rode a crane to the top of the tree to change the old light strands with 13 new ones, each 75 feet long and decorated with upwards of 70 bulbs.
With the crane stretched to its maximum 100-foot height, he pulled the new lights up to the bucket swaying in the wind and attached them to the tree.
"Actually, the tree gets to moving quite a bit, but the crane not so much as it looks," he said.
"This is little stuff," said Mathes, who says he's used to hanging off the tops of casino buildings servicing signs much higher than the top of the state's Christmas tree.
Meizel said there are no plans yet to take down the 120-year-old tree.
The lighting ceremony in front of the capitol is scheduled for about 5:30 p.m. Thursday, after which the city's own tree will be lit at the corner of Nevada and Musser streets.
An open house at City Hall will follow about 6:30 p.m.