As a child, county woman planted state tree

Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Standing in front of Tennessee's new Christmas tree are, from left, Matt Jones, 10 (holding the puppy, Sandy, an early Christmas present), Sean Coe, 13, Justin Jones, 9, and Chris Jones, 15. At Angela Coe's parents' home in Fairview, state employees get a replacement tree for the state Christmas tree that blew over last week.

A Lewisburg woman helped her family plant the pine tree that's now the state Christmas tree, glowing at the Capitol in Nashville as a replacement for one that was blown down by high winds one week ago.

It was nearly a quarter century ago when Angela Coe, now a 35-year-old stay-at-home mom at Colbert Hollow, was living with her parents, Sandy and David Petersen, of Fairview. They had a live Christmas tree that December. After Christmas, Angela and her family planted it in their backyard.

That tree grew to 25 feet tall and was provided to the state on Thursday when the state needed another tree. The state tree at the Capitol building was blown over in the predawn hours of Dec. 9 when hooks anchored in concrete failed to hold the tree in place.

Gov. Phil Bredesen said he was embarrassed, and Angela's parents realized their tree had been blocking their satellite dish, so on Thursday state employees "came and looked at it and said it was the most beautiful tree they've ever seen. They lifted it with a crane."

Angela calls it a "regular Christmas tree ... the kind with the soft limbs that you can run your fingers on it with out getting stuck. It was not prickly at all.

"The whole family helped plant it on the side of our house. It was little. It's weird thinking back about that. It's humongous now. That tree has sentimental value. It was our family Christmas tree."

Still, Angela was happy, so she called Marshall Elementary School and told the school's office assistant, Pam Finley, who made an announcement to all the children on Friday, according to educational assistant Sheila Vernon.

"They were all excited," Vernon said of the students.

It was a surprise to Angela's children who attend MES.

Angela and Gene Coe Sr., a mechanic at R&R Automotive, have four children living with them in Marshall County. They are: Chris Jones, a 15-year-old freshman at Marshall County High School; Sean Coe, 13, an 8th grader at Lewisburg Middle School; Matt Jones, 10, a 4th grader at MES; and Justin Jones, 9, an MES 3rd grader.

Angela says they've been living at Lewisburg for five years.

"We did live in Williamson County, but it costs too much to live there in Williamson County where the cost of living is way out the roof," Angela said.

Her parents' home is on Highway 100 near the high school in Fairview. Her father is a welder and her mother is "a stay-at-home mom who raised me and my two sisters and one brother," Angela said.

She remembers that when she was 12 years old attending Fairview Middle School, her parents bought a balled live Christmas tree.

"It was six-foot-tall, but by God it's not six foot now," she said. "I just always liked that tree. It's my favorite tree. We had another tree and my mother told me that one of the guys (who came for the tree in Fairview on Thursday) said he'd be back to get the other one in 10 years.

"They wanted to know if my dad had trimmed the tree or cut its branches at all," Angela said, adding that her father had done nothing but grow the tree.

"The state police came and they escorted it to Nashville," she said. "Isn't that funny? I just kind of laugh at that part; a tree got an escort."

Angela was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and moved to Tennessee when she was three and she's been here ever since. The family moved to Tennessee because her grandparents moved here and her uncles did too.