Pennsylvania's sad tree won't sour Christmas spirit

A much-maligned Christmas tree in downtown Reading, Pennsylvania, was still standing Tuesday morning.

CBS News cameras were there Monday as local officials started to replace the city's official tree because many people had complained that it looked ugly. But as CBS News correspondent Vicente Arenas reports, the tree is getting a last-minute reprieve.

After the tree made national headlines, city hall was inundated with calls from around the country from people both pro-tree and anti-tree. In the end, officials decided the tree would stay, hoping it will help spread the true meaning of the holiday spirit.

But this Christmas miracle almost wasn't.

"That tree is not a very good tree for Christmas, sorry," one resident said.

The tree was in danger of getting axed. It's sparse, droopy branches accused of putting a damper on the holiday spirit.

"If you look at it, it looks like something you throw out after the season -- not for the season," another resident said.

It turns out the scrawny 50 foot spruce was actually a last-minute fill-in after wet grounds prevented crews from reaching the town's first choice.

"This Christmas tree doesn't go with what our city is," Reading city council resident Francis Acosta said.

But as crews began taking down the lights and the unique pretzel topper, calls grew to save the tree.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with it," resident Thomas Koch said. "I think it's like the rest of the city, it has great character."

By afternoon, city council members were on the street openly debating the tree's fate.

"It sends the wrong message to take down the tree," Reading city council vice president Jeff Waltman said. "The message to the world needs to be that nobody's perfect."

In the end, officials decided they would keep the spruce. It may not be the flashiest, but the town of Reading is embracing it, flaws and all.

"Holiday spirit comes from the heart, not from a pretty or not pretty tree," resident Wendy Lessar said. "We say decorate it up, fill in the gaps and move forward."

Another tree will be placed at a local park. City officials are owning up to the fact that the so-called ugly tree is also now mostly bare. They're encouraging people to donate decorations -- lights, ornaments and definitely a new tree topper.