POULSBO — The first-ever Celebration Trees to be planted in Little Norway was news that city staff applauded last month.
But those cheers turned to jeers this week #when one of the trees was stolen over the weekend.
“It had only been in the ground two or three weeks,” Parks and Recreation Director Mary McCluskey said of the Sargent Tina Crabapple that was taken sometime between Friday afternoon and early Monday morning. “When I heard, I was almost speechless. I just didn’t know what to do.”
The tree, one of a pair, had been planted in front of the Lions Park tennis courts along Fjord Drive. The two trees had been purchased by long-time Poulsbo residents Bud and Mary Jean Bushnell in memory of their parents Sherman and Emily Bushnell and William and Merle Moore.
“We wanted something special to remember our parents by and for our children and grandchildren to be able to see them and know what they’re for,” Mary Jean Bushnell said of the couple’s decision to plant the first Celebration Trees in the city.
The flowering crabapples were conveniently planted off Fjord, near the Bushnell’s home. Mary Jean Bushnell said the trees’ location meant the couple could visit them easily. But the Bushnells’ proximity was not a blessing on Monday.
“I discovered (the tree was missing) on my two-mile walk Monday morning and I was just dumbfounded,” Mary Jean Bushnell recalled. “I couldn’t believe it. There was just a neat little hole and no tree in it.”
The trees hadn’t even been in the ground long enough for the memorial plaques commemorating the Bushnells and the Moores to be placed. McCluskey said the trees had recently bloomed
beautifully and were a positive addition to the scenic drive.
“A lot of money and time was put into finding those trees and putting them there,” commented McCluskey.
The thefts come nearly one year after the Poulsbo Tree Board started offering Celebration Trees. The program allows residents to pay a $150-$250 donation to have a tree placed somewhere in Poulsbo in celebration or remembrance of a loved one or occasion. The Bushnells’ donations were the first of what city staff hopes will be many more to come.
McCluskey said the act seems to have been premeditated since the tree was carefully dug out of the ground and a track of dirt from the hole to the road shows where the plant was dragged to a waiting vehicle. She has filed report with the Poulsbo Police Department.
Sergeant Bill Playter of the PPD said theft of the tree, valued at $250, is considered second degree theft which could carry up to two years in prison for the Class C Felony. Depending on the tree nappers criminal record Playter added the theft might be considered a misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.
While the police investigate, the Bushnells are hoping that the community will help them keep an eye on the remaining tree so it won’t suffer the same fate. And they’re still holding out hope that someone will help them recover their missing memorial.
“We hope someone will notice and give us information so that it can be found,” Mary Jean Bushnell said.
Anyone with information on the missing Sargent Tina Crabapple should call the PPD at (360) 779-3113 or 911.