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Square is donated new Christmas tree

Pictured at the donation of the 12-foot tree is Southern Beverage Company area manager Steve Snider, sales manager Matt Phillips, Piggly Wiggly manager Randy Morrow, Mayor Jerry Autry, Southern Beverage area manager Irvin Cosby, and general manager Tim Thomas. (Allen Brewer)

The City of Batesville received an early Christmas gift this year.

Piggly Wiggly and Southern Beverage Company donated a 12-foot Christmas tree to the city on Friday, Dec. 18. The city will place the tree by the town Square gazebo during future Christmas celebrations.

“It’s tall enough and pretty enough to be a great asset for the city.” Mayor Jerry Autrey said. “We will continue to work with Southern Beverage Company and the Piggly Wiggly, and we appreciate their support.”

Piggly Wiggly manager Randy Morrow said the tree was given to him by Southern Beverage for a holiday display. Morrow said general manager Tim Thomas suggested they donate the tree to Batesville.

“I just wanted to find a good place to make a contribution to for a good many years,” Thomas said. “There’s not a lot of places you could put a 12-foot tree.”

Emotionally, this year’s donations came at an important time. While the city has found ways for citizens to celebrate safely, officials admit that spirits have been lowed by the threat of COVID-19.

“It’s kind of hard because of the pandemic and the loss of the Christmas train,” Autrey said. “It’s been hard for everyone.”

Along with all the twinkling lights and other beautiful holiday decorations around Batesville, the mayor hopes this new tree will spread more tidings of joy next year.

Piggly Wiggly will officially give the tree to the city in January. Batesville Main Street Director Mamie Avery said she will place the tree in storage with all of the city’s other holiday decorations.

“The city has a storage unit just for holiday supplies, and it is packed,” Avery said. “When I have to go to the back, I have to duck under (Santa’s) slay.”

Last year the business gave three midsize trees, which the grocery store gave to needy families in the area before Christmas.

This year  Southern Beverage gave Christmas trees to around 12 other grocery stores and convenience stores in seven counties.

“We hope to continue every year, and more so in coming years,” Thomas said.

While the pandemic has limited some of our beloved holiday traditions, Batesville citizens can always look forward to seeing the new Batesville Christmas tree in all its glory for many years to come.