Ashland's 1991 Tree of the Year did not survive Sunday night's storm. Nine and a half inches of heavy snow, age and possible internal rot may have caused the Interior Live Oak, located on the corner of Ashland Street and Beach Street, to split in two, said Ashland Director of Utilities Dick Wanderscheid.

Jim and Marcia McNamara own the nearly 200-year-old tree. Jim said he went for a walk around 7 p.m. Sunday night. "I walked right under it," he said.

When he returned home a little after 8 p.m., he thought something looked different.

"I thought, 'Why can't I see through the intersection?'."

He figured it out and went inside to ask his wife when the tree went down.

"What tree?" she said.

Marcia said she fell asleep watching Antiques Roadshow when "something" woke her up.

"I looked outside and didn't see anything."

She later discovered the tree also landed on her van parked in Beach Street.

The tree split in two, but only half of the tree fell, taking power lines and a pole with it. Wanderscheid said his workers needed to shut off power to the substation that serves about 2,000 Ashland residents around 9 p.m. Sunday.

Utility workers needed to shore up the utility pole and replace the broken lines; then they had to chainsaw limbs from the other half of the tree before it affected another pole, said Marcia.

"The utility people were great," Marcia said. "They were out here in the middle of the night with it cold and storming out."

The tree remains sprawled across Beach Street and city workers put up orange signs and yellow tape to try and keep people away &

but the neighborhood mourners turned out to pay their last respects anyway.

"We loved this tree," said neighbor Paul French. "We walked under it every day. This is so sad."

His wife Julie was shocked, silently staring at the wreckage that once was was the Tree of the Year.

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