'Tis the season! Giant Christmas tree arrives in Anthem

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

ANTHEM, Ariz. -- It's not even Halloween yet, but it's already beginning to feel a lot like Christmas in Anthem.

Tuesday morning, the country's tallest, fresh-cut Christmas tree arrived at the Outlets at Anthem. The  112-foot-high, white fir, is fresh off a four-day journey from northern California. Once decorated, the tree will reach 115 feet.

For the fifth consecutive year, the popular North Phoenix outlet shopping center will display the 12-ton tree in its busy center court area during the holiday season.

"It's the beacon of the season," says Sallyann Martinez with the Outlets at Anthem.

Of course, Santa was on hand Tuesday morning to meet the tree and to certify that it is the tallest in the nation.

A crew of 14 secured the tree to a large strap. Then a construction crane hoisted it off the flatbed, rotated it, and lowered it into a specially designed tree well in center court.

Carolers were also there to ring in the season with song. And kids and adults alike enjoyed holiday treats like hot chocolate and cookies.

The tree will be ready for ornaments next week. But first, crews will begin filling in the empty spots to make it look fuller. "We fill in some branches," explains Martinez. "We call it plugging the tree. We take branches from trees that are their neighbors. They make it the same size, put it in the trunk of the tree, and put in a block of wood."

If you'd like the see the tree, the Outlets at Anthem are located 15 minutes north of the Loop 101 off
I-17 at the Anthem Way exit. For additional Information, call 623-465-9500 or visit www.outletsanthem.com.

To compare the size of this tree, the tree is taller than:
    -The Arizona State Capital building (90 feet)
    -An official NBA Basketball court (94 feet)
    -The tallest tree ever showcased in New York City's Rockefeller Center (90 feet)
    -Splash Mountain at Disneyland in California (87 feet)
    -The iconic Hollywood sign in California (55 feet)