Thirty-something years ago, a first-grader at Laurel Elementary School got a little pine tree at school and planted it in his grandparents’ backyard.

Now, Trevor Shirley’s tree is going from the backyard to the big time as it was selected to be displayed and decorated downtown in Kennedy Square as the city’s Christmas tree. 

“He and his family were in the process of moving to Virginia at the time,” said Carol Sickafuse, Trevor’s grandmother.

Sickafuse and her husband, Bill, saw a story in the newspaper about the city’s search for a tree. Bill called the city and, after workers looked at other options, Trevor’s tree from first grade with teacher Todd Cole was selected.

New Castle Public Works employees arrived at the Sickafuse homestead in Hickory Township on Thursday morning to cut down the tree, to transport it by trailer and to haul it downtown. Workers then spent more than an hour trimming and shaping the tree’s base before it was hoisted by bucket truck and harnesses into place. It will be decorated later.   

Trevor, the son of Marianne and Eric Shirley of the Laurel area, lives in Oklahoma — near Tulsa — with his wife and two children. His family comes back to visit about once a year, Sickafuse said, adding he was in town last Christmas.

Shirley’s parents are planning to take a family picture in front of the tree and send it to Trevor, who has a master’s degree in the nursing field, as a keepsake. 

The tree will be illuminated Nov. 23 during the Hometown Holly Days celebration. The annual parade steps off at 3 p.m. with a pop-up family festival following from 4 until 6 p.m. At that time, the tree will be lit, followed by a fireworks show by Pyrotechnico.

Digital editor

Pete Sirianni is the News' digital editor. Previously, he worked at The Bradford (Pa.) Era. Sirianni is a 2016 IUP graduate, earning a degree in journalism and public relations. Contact him at or on Twitter at @PeterSirianni.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.