THE new steel Christmas ‘Tree’ at Broadway in Ballymena, which is sharply dividing opinion, is here to stay and will not be replaced by a real tree, it emerged on Friday.
A steel structure around 20ft high – which lights up – has replaced the real 30ft evergreen tree which traditionally was put up at Broadway.
A real tree still exists outside The Braid Town Hall.
In recent weeks, Ballymena Daily had reported that members of the public had queried just where there was space for a Tree at Broadway but a council spokespeson had told us at the time it would be put up at the Church Street side and would be similar in size to previous years.
The spokesman had said: “There will be a tree at this location”.
However, at that stage, no indication had been given that it was not going to be a real tree.
In recent weeks the public had wondered if a real evergreen tree at the junction of where Broadway leads into Church Street would obstruct sight lines for drivers.
And now the steel Christmas ‘Tree’ has gone up.
There been a big response already on social media with many people saying the steel ‘tree’ is a step too far and is a break from tradition but others said it is something new and that a traditional Christmas Tree is still up at The Braid.
When ‘Harmony Hub’ replaced the bandstand at Broadway there had also been differing views about it.
On Friday afternoon, a council spokeswoman told ‘Ballymena Daily’: “The Christmas ‘Tree’ that has been located at the Harmony Hub is one part of a brand new lighting scheme currently being installed across Mid and East Antrim in time for the switch on events in the three town centres.
“The main Christmas tree for Ballymena is still located outside The Braid, as it has been since it opened in 2008.
“On Thursday 15 November, Ballymena’s brand new festive lights will glitter through the high streets right up to the Harmony Hub, where a spectacular lantern parade with local schools, live music and Santa on his reindeer train.
“Businesses are staying open late to cater to the crowds expected to come to Ballymena on that night and the new lights and entertainment at the Harmony Hub is to get that footfall right across the town centre.
“There will be lots of family fun taking place from 4pm-7pm, so come along to enjoy what will be the perfect start to your festive season.”
It was confirmed to ‘Ballymena Daily’ the steel ‘tree’ is remaining in place and it will light up in tandem with a lights display on ‘Harmony Hub’ when the town’s Christmas lights switch-on ceremony is held there on November 15.
It is understood it is now impossible to put in a real tree at Broadway because a base several feet deep would be needed and that can’t happen because of the amount of electrical cabling under the ‘Hub’ and other associated underground structures like various pipes.