Keep the tree green

Published 9:52 pm Tuesday, December 4, 2018

This year is the 40th anniversary of the Pilot Club of Suffolk’s Safety Tree, an annual reminder for folks to drive safely during the month of December.

This holiday tradition features a Christmas tree strung with green lights on Dec. 1. In a partnership with the Suffolk Police Department, a green bulb is replaced with a red bulb for each traffic fatality that takes place in Suffolk during the month of December.

The tradition is festive while at the same time carrying a serious message, and may also seem a tad idealistic. What, you may ask, does a verdant tree have to do with traffic safety?

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Well, we think it can have a lot to do with traffic safety.

National statistics show that December is a bad month for traffic crashes, especially on the days around Christmas. The nights are longer, more people are out shopping, and people attending holiday parties sometimes drink and drive. It’s a hectic month, with a lot on everybody’s mind.

In its 40 years, the tree has stayed green all month long only about four to six times, in the memory of the longer-serving members of the Pilot Club of Suffolk. One of those times was just last year, and we think it can happen a lot more often.

We’d like to think that if driving by the tree reminds even one person to slow down and pay more attention, that could help avoid an unnecessary crash that could take someone’s life.

Idealistic? Maybe. But when it comes to helping a family avoid the pain and heartache that come with losing someone so needlessly, we think that nice traditions like these sponsored by community organizations can be part of the solution.

We appreciate the Pilot Club of Suffolk and the Suffolk Police Department, as well as the Knights of Columbus for the tree donation and the Elks Lodge for donating the location.

Now let’s keep the tree green all month long.