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Farewell Planned for 375-Year-Old Cypress

August 02, 1997|NICK GREEN

Candles will be lit and a traditional Chumash ceremony held Sunday as people gather in Port Hueneme to say goodbye to a 375-year-old Monterey cypress tree.

The city will chop down the landmark tree beginning Monday because disease, bugs and old age have taken their toll, making the cypress a potential liability.

The tree stands next to the Chamber of Commerce and museum building--itself a historic structure--and towers more than 100 feet above a sidewalk and several parking stalls.

The tree has far surpassed its normal 80- to 100-year life span, and despite eight years of intensive care it is largely dead and decaying.

"I thought it would be good to have a ceremony because a coming together of people at a sad time, giving reverence to the tree, is something that can help all of us feel better," said organizer Corinne Sharkey, wife of Councilman Jon Sharkey. "Our intent is to have people to feel a sense of sharing, so they don't have to say goodbye to the tree alone."

But the tree is expected to live on in a fashion. Timber from it will be used in a variety of arts and crafts.

A cross-section of the community is expected at the ceremony, including musicians, poets and children.

Youngsters may come at 6 p.m. to hear Chumash stories.

The ceremony proper begins at 7 p.m. beneath the tree at the corner of Hueneme Road and Market Street, with candles being lit about 8 p.m.

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