Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lumber Is Donated To Newburgh Habitat

Apr 8, 2016

Lumber from the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree was delivered to Newburgh Thursday and will be used in constructing a Habitat for Humanity house. It turns out the tree not only ended up in the Hudson Valley, but began there as well.

The lumber milled from the 2015 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree arrived at Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh, and will become a permanent part of a Habitat home on South Miller Street, the Talamante house, to be precise.

“Muy contento por las noticias que nos dieron que el árbol de Rockefeller fue destinado por nuestra casa.”

That’s Ricardo Talamante, who says his family was really happy to hear the news that part of the Rockefeller Center tree was headed for his house.

In a nearly decade-long tradition, Tishman Speyer, the owner and manager of Rockefeller Center, donates lumber from the tree to Habitat for Humanity. For Habitat of Newburgh, this is the second time the tree has been donated. Lumber from the 2010 tree marked the first. However, this time, there’s definitely a Newburgh connection. Gardiner residents Nancy Puchalski and Albert Asendorf donated last year’s tree to Rockefeller Center. They say they knew the lumber then would be donated to a Habitat for Humanity project in the New York area, but did not know until about two months ago that the lumber from their 78-foot-tall, 47-foot-wide Norway spruce would go to the Newburgh Habitat for Humanity. Here’s Puchalski:

“I was born and raised in Newburgh so it came full circle,” says Puchalski. “It’s getting recycled to someone that really needs the house and it’s wonderful that we can provide that.”

She grew up on Gidney Avenue. And her Newburgh connection continues, as she works in Newburgh.

“So I’m really touched because I work, like I said, in Head Start, low-income children that really need housing, and this is wonderful,” says Puchalski. “In fact, one of our staff just had a Habitat house built for them.”

Cathy Collins is executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh.

“I think that’s always what makes it very interesting is how many people are connected to the City of Newburgh,” Collins says. “And I think that’s why there’s such energy for really revitalizing this community, that there’s lots of people that remember it in its heyday and its vibrancy and they want that for future generations, like the Talamantes.”

She hopes to dedicate the house in the early December.

“What better time to dedicate the house with the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree than the month that Christmas is in, so that’s my goal,” Collins says.

That was news to the Talamantes, who before April 7, did not know the address of their new home or that there would be a December dedication. Here’s Collins delivering the news.

That’s Anayeli Talamante who says that’s something more to get excited about while her father, Ricardo, says “thank you” at the end.

Collins says staff from Tishman Speyer will come to Newburgh at the end of June to help build the house with the Rockefeller tree lumber. And she explains how the lumber will be used.

“Most of it ends up getting covered up,” says Collins. “A good portion of this will be used with some of the framing and more of the support framing that happens. It’s not going to be load bearing just because it’s  a softer wood and you can’t use it in that way but it will be part of the walls.”

She says the family will know where in the house the special wood lies. I asked Ricardo Talamante if he would be doing something special in the house given the origin of some of the lumber.

“Claro. yo creo que si haremos algo especial porque es el árbol de Rockefeller,” says Talamante. Tenemos que hacer algo especial.”

He says, of course he thinks they’ll do something special because it is the Rockefeller tree.

Not only will the Talamantes live among Rockefeller Tree wood, but they now have a signed copy of David Rubel’s The Carpenter’s Gift. Written in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, the book tells the story of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and the neighbor-helping-neighbor program of Habitat for Humanity.