PHILADELPHIA - City Hall's Christmas tree will return with an official lighting ceremony Wednesday evening.

For the last two years, construction on Dilworth Park prevented city officials from bringing a tree into the courtyard, but this year a 35-foot Norway spruce, plucked from Linvilla Orchards in Media, traveled up Broad Street and into the city's center.

Operations Director Chris Palmer said the 40-year-old donated tree was selected from more than 15 visited by Parks and Recreation staff.

"It's really difficult to find the perfect Christmas tree to display in public places," said Palmer, who has been working for the city 33 years. "People who have them - they don't necessarily want to give them away. Oftentimes it's in a bad location - such as near electrical wires - or it's just really not a nice tree, even though the family has a great story behind it."

This year's pick is about 10 feet smaller than in previous years, but Palmer says its full, triangular shape made it the pick.

It's also difficult to make any tree look tall while standing before a 548-foot-tower.

Crews working with chain saws and others operating a crane simultaneously removed and lifted the tree. "It never touched the ground," Palmer said. "We took good care of it."

The festivities will begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the courtyard with several musical performances, and will be televised on ABC, beginning at 7:30 p.m. The official countdown will start at 7:55 p.m.

- Julia Terruso