Town Happy with "Charlie Brown" Xmas Tree

Concord, Calif.'s 2009 Christmas tree
Concord, Calif.'s 2009 Christmas tree. The town couldn't afford to truck in a tree from the Sierra Nevada mountains as usual, so it used a tree already in the town square. The "Charlie Brown" tree has inspired some in the town to collect blankets for the needy, in a playful reference to Charlie's blanket-toting friend Linus.
CBS

The Christmas spirit - no Grinch can steal it, no Scrooge can stifle it. And, as CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy reports, the spirit lives on evein during tough economic times.

For the past 86 years the city of Concord, Calif. has brought in a lush and towering evergreen from the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains to light up its town square.

But this year - you could say budget cuts have trimmed Concord's tree.

With layoffs and a $7 million deficit, Concord's mayor could not spend $30,000 to truck in a tree. So she had them decorate one already in the town square - bare of leaves and a bit sorry looking - chosen not for its looks but its proximity to the electrical outlet.

"I've seen a few dead trees before and it reminds me of that," one resident said.

Budget woes are the Grinch stealing Christmas all across the country.

In Orlando, Fla. radio listeners had to pitch in for Christmas decorations because the city could not afford to put theirs up. In Albert Lea, Minn., the holiday lights on the buildings and lampposts stay off to save on the electric bill.

And in Chicago, gone is last year's $300,000 tree that stood 85 feet tall. This year's tree is 31 feet shorter and half the price.

But in Concord they decided to embrace the comparison to another never-green tree - the one in "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

"Those people that are complaining about our Charlie Brown tree - too bad for them," said resident Joyce Lindquist. "I think it's great."

The folks in Concord figured they could do some good with their Charlie Brown tree. They started collecting blankets - a kind playful connection to Charlie's friend Linus - to give to those in need.

"It looks to us that the community is still truckin' on - even through this recession," said resident Barbara Kitting.

It's a reminder that the Christmas spirit is still alive - even if their tree may not be.