As the iconic symbol of Christmas sat in the back of his truck, crews readied the transition from flatbed to concrete, where the tree would be placed in a ready-made, steel-encased hole.
“This is one of the most perfect trees I’ve ever seen,” he said smelling the evergreen pine.
“That’s what we’re selling is the smell.”
Casella has been selling Christmas trees for 20 years in Burbank.
His family-owned business was established in 1937 by his father in Glendale and moved to a lot at Burbank High School in 1987.
“We grow a better quality of tree,” he said about the tree farm in Washington.
But Casella didn’t want just any tree for City Hall.
“This one came from a private residence, where he had 10 beautiful trees,” Casella said.
“I begged for five and took them. This one’s 22 years old.”
The fair market value of the City Hall tree that stands opposite the fountain is about $2,500, but Burbank paid about $1,000, he said.
“Burbank is getting a pretty good deal,” Casella said.
Joining the tree is a 6-foot-wide wreath that rests above the doors of City Hall.
Though the tree and wreath are partners in delivering a holiday message, Rabbi Richard Flom of Burbank’s Temple Emanu-El is not concerned about any inappropriate mix of church and state.
“I have no concerns about the legality over the tree,” he said.
“For a lot of people it’s a symbol of a season. A tree is a decoration, and I have no problem with that.”
Burbank residents will get a taste of another holiday, though not through government channels.
Chabad of Burbank plans to construct a Hanukkiah, the traditional symbol of Hanukkah that commemorates the eight nights of celebration, at the Burbank Town Center, the center’s program coordinator Dezorah Paltiel said.
But efforts toward leveling the religious playing field is an exercise in futility, as most American citizens are already entrenched in one religion, Flom said.
“Any attempts at parity fall flat,” he said. “Let’s face it, Dec. 25 is a federal holiday.
“We have to accept the fact that we are in a society that is predominantly Christian and in one that lets us practice any religion as we see fit. Thank God for that.”