After her parents donated a pine tree they'd raised from a sapling for a St. Paul holiday display 15 years ago, Peggy Lang so loved the idea that she kept it in mind to someday do the same.
Fast forward to Christmas 2022. A 50-foot tree from Lang's yard — which her daughter Corrie brought home as a sapling 40 years ago — will be illuminated Dec. 3 as Union Depot's Holiday Tree.
Peggy Lang won't be there to see it. She died of a heart attack in July. Her family will be there, though, including daughter Corrie Hoff and her kids, to see Lang's holiday wish come true.
"I think my mom always had this in the back of her mind," Hoff said.
The tree now gracing the Depot's North Plaza got its start after Hoff, then a second-grader, brought it home from school. After a year or so of nurturing indoors, the Langs transplanted it in their Maplewood yard.
It didn't get much thought until Lang's parents donated a 40-foot tree for a downtown St. Paul holiday display in 2005 or 2006, said Dick Lang, Peggy's husband. Peggy Lang had won it as a sapling in a bingo game in the late '60s and they'd planted it in their St. Paul yard.
Her grandparents brought the family to that tree's lighting in a limo, Corrie Hoff said.
"Her dad was tickled to give the tree," Dick Lang said. "He didn't have to pay to remove it."
The same was true for Lang, who went ahead with the donation after his wife's sudden death.
"Peggy and I talked about getting this one taken down for about two years or so," he said.
The Union Depot tree illumination, scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, is part of a free daylong program not only celebrating the season but also recognizing the Depot's 10th anniversary. Events start at 3 p.m. The first 1,000 children to attend the tree-lighting will receive a light-up holiday wand.
Hoff, now 47 and a mother of four, said she expects to have "mixed emotions" when the tree is lit. Mostly, it will be a celebration.
"My mom loved this kind of stuff," she said.