Providence Christmas tree glows with a family tradition

PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) — The blue spruce glowing in front of Providence City Hall is truly a family tree.

A few years back, Joshua Okolowitcz’s grandfather won a contest to donate a tree to the city.

“He was so excited. Oh my god! It was like a lifelong goal,” Okolowitcz said. “He was just awestruck. You could see him. He was like, ‘Oh my tree.” Great experience.”

His grandfather, Robert Mink, passed away last year at the age of 85. He was a Providence firefighter for 35 years and had planted the tree he donated and a second blue spruce about four decades ago.

So, his grandson knew exactly what to do with the other blue spruce.

“It was mixed emotions, but at the same time it’s something that I felt that he would want,” he said. “It was a really neat way to connect with my grandfather.”

He kept a few sprigs for holiday decorations, and as the lights went on in front of City Hall, he had little doubt he’d made the decision his grandfather would’ve made.

“We totally feel his spirit, even right now. This is where we grew up,” said Okolowitcz, referring to his grandparents’ home that he now owns. “This is where we played high-low-jack thousands of times. Pasta dinners every Sunday. So. It’s cool. It’s cool.”

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