By Stephanie Immelman Special to The Pineapple For more than 20 years, Delray residents and visitors alike have marveled at our Famous 100 Ft Christmas Tree. In 2012 it was named as one of the best Trees in all of the USA, right up there with the trees at Rockefeller Center and the White House. So you think putting your own tree up takes time? Try creating one for the whole community. Building the Tree is a month-long community event that brings together people of all ages and all walks of life. “Mother Fluffers” as they are known, descend to the site in front of the Cornell Museum on the grounds of the Delray Beach Center for the Arts at Old School Square the first week in November. Some have been with the Tree for 20 years like Dale Madieros. Many others have volunteered their time for five, 10 or 15 years. The fluffers pull all 3,000 branches out of their storage boxes, check all 15,000 LED light bulbs, fluff the branches and hang them on the Tree. Thanks to veterans like Mary “Mike” Williams, the new volunteers are trained well and soon become part of the family. Some of our volunteers like Krug Kruger are known as “the climbers” who scale the infrastructure to get the branches on. We use a cherry picker to do the rest. That’s usually the job of Jeremy at Meisner Electric. The Tree is stacked in mid-November and it is always an incredible site. At the end of the holiday season, one volunteer is chosen to receive the Mother Fluffer award to keep until the following year when a new volunteer takes the prize home. Local restaurants donate lunches, enough to feed 30-50 workers per day, each day the Tree is under construction. Wrangling the donations from the restaurants is the job of Kitchen Elf, Al Hincken. The task of doling out the food to the workers and making endless brews of coffee goes to Dale Madieros, Grand Elf. Mellow Mushroom does its part to feed the seventh and eighth graders who come and help out on site. Last year students from Village Academy, American Heritage, St Vincent and the SGA from Atlantic High School came out to assist our veteran volunteers at the Tree. For the second year in a row, Home Depot came on board in a big way. Last year their Team Depot volunteered on site to spruce up the houses inside the Tree. Home Depot donated the building materials as well as lots of supplies to get the Tree in perfect shape. Most importantly they volunteered their time and expertise to make sure the houses were shored up, safe and great to look at. City workers from all departments help out at the Tree. There is a sense of camaraderie on the building site as many of these people have worked together on the Tree for many years. Without their long term knowledge of how to build the tree and good natured attitude in handling the additional duties in November the City wouldn’t have this magnificent symbol of Community. The serious work of erecting the 100 Ft Christmas Tree falls to Eagle Metal, Meisner Electric and Hard Drives. The steel workers and electricians are on site from day one putting together 30,000 lbs of metal framing and wiring it to light perfectly each night. By now you’ve probably seen Santa’s lovely new cottage. This gift to the City comes from a collaboration of Richard Jones Architects and Seaside Builders. Once the house arrives to the site, their staff is there helping with the installation. The Tree is, of course, on the grounds of the Delray Beach Center for the Arts. The team at DBCFTA works hand in hand with the Delray Beach Marketing Cooperative during the months of November, December and January from build-up to take down. Once the Tree is built the job isn’t over for our Holiday volunteers. In fact, they are just getting started. The Tree is open every day from the Tree Lighting on December 5th through January 1st. We count on our volunteers to man the Tree, ask for donations and answer endless questions about the Tree and Delray Beach. Without our volunteer coordinators, Allison Good and Mary Anne Volpe, we wouldn’t be able to keep the Tree open day and night for visitors to marvel at. And last but not least, Team DBMC, the Delray Beach Marketing Cooperative, acts as the conductor to turn all of these moving parts into a magical destination for residents and visitors alike. The DBMC coordinates the build, garners sponsors, plans the Tree Lighting event, promotes the Tree, runs the site during December, coordinates First Night and finally, orchestrates the take down in January. It’s a busy time for a small team of four but we do it with love in our hearts for the community of Delray Beach. This year the Tree fluffing will start on Wednesday, November 5th we will work Monday-Friday from 9am until about 2:00pm, with the exception on the days that the Tree is stacked on November 12th & 13th. Lunch is served daily, generously donated by the restaurants in Delray Beach!