Rescued Christmas tree lifts wrecked town's spirit
UNION BEACH, N.J. (AP) — In the days after Superstorm Sandy wrecked this gritty blue-collar enclave on the New Jersey shore, creating iconic scenes of devastation and loss, the artificial Christmas tree was just an inconspicuous part of tons of rubble, the detritus of people's lives in a town ripped open for all to see.
A local youth soccer coach drove past it for three days straight, on his way to volunteer by helping neighbors rip out the carpets, floors and walls of their flooded homes.
He plucked it from its waterlogged storage bag, set it up in a vacant field — and watched in amazement as grieving residents made the tree their own, adorning it with handmade ornaments, lights, and messages of hope, defiance and recovery.
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