Saturday, Dec. 12, 2009 | 2:05 a.m.
Every family has its holiday traditions, but none may be as stressful as picking out the perfect Christmas tree.
Families can spend an entire day wandering tree lots in the cold to find the one that’s just right. Either that or they throw in the towel and settle for an artificial tree.
Then there’s the Marnell family. Picking out a Christmas tree for the family’s casinos has been a tradition for years.
This year, Anthony Marnell III and family found their tree in Oregon, a 109-foot, 11-ton White Fir — the tallest non-living Christmas tree, M Resort executives contend.
The tree made its journey from Oregon on a truck Nov. 29 and arrived in Henderson on Dec. 2.
Since the tree arrived at M’s Villaggio Del Sole Piazza, workers on cranes and ladders have been busy decorating it with thousands of lights and ornaments for tonight’s lighting.
But how is M Resort sure it has the tallest tree in the nation?
“We have a guy up in Oregon who has done this for us in the past,” Executive Vice President and General Manager John Lipkowitz said. “He takes care of all the measurements, weight and calculations. We really didn’t know it was going to be the tallest until others released their numbers.”
A close second goes to Costa Mesa, Calif.’s 96-foot-tall White Fir.
Probably the most famous Christmas tree in the nation — the one in Rockefeller Center in New York — is 76 feet tall.
The National Mall tree in Washington, D.C., is an 85-foot Blue Spruce from the White Mountains of Arizona, while the Obama family tree is an 18.5-foot Norway Spruce from Shepherdstown, W.Va.
There are several categories by which cities and resorts measure their trees. There’s tallest non-living tree (M Resort’s category), tallest living tree, tallest floating tree and the tallest artificial tree.
The Coeur d’Alene Resort in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, says it has the world’s tallest living tree this year at 161 feet.
Mexico City’s 367-foot tower of lights shaped like a tree is the tallest artificial tree, while Rio De Janeiro has the tallest floating artificial tree. Lipkowitz said the Marnell family had the nation’s tallest tree another year, at the Rio, but former staffers can’t remember the year. The family’s goal, regardless, has been to open its spaces for family-orientated, holiday fun, Lipkowitz said.
Tonight’s event will be free to the public with hot chocolate, cookies and carolers. And 50 Clark County schools will be competing in a gingerbread house competition.
M has hosted several public events since its opening, like Fourth of July and Labor Day parties, with a combined attendance of almost 14,000 people, Lipkowitz said.
“We are still relatively new in the market, and we are still trying to reach out to the Las Vegas community and remind them that we are here,” Lipkowtiz said.
But will the Marnell’s record for the year’s tallest live tree hold up between now and Christmas?
“They’ve got a couple days to go if they want to beat us. God bless ‘em if they make that happen,” Lipkowitz said. “We’ll still have the biggest tree in Las Vegas.”