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Daily Pilot

Fashion Island Christmas tree arrives

By Lauren Williams

8:48 PM PDT, November 1, 2012

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The air at Fashion Island was scented Thursday morning with the smells of the holiday season. A 90-foot white fir was moved to its holiday home near the south end of the coastal shopping center.

The Christmas tree traveled about 30 hours, departing Tuesday from Mt. Shasta in Northern California and arriving at the luxury shopping center, where a crane hoisted the fir into an 8.5-foot hole.

Between 6:30 and 7 every morning, Sharon Fagundes and her shih tzu Sophie walk Fashion Island.

"I'm thrilled," she said of the tree. "I've got my camera, and I'm going to take pictures."

Fagundes said she will post the photos on Facebook to share with family back East.

Cathy Steinfeld said the production necessary for hauling the tree nearly 650 miles wasn't unlike moving another large Southern California fixture.

"It's kind of like moving the shuttle," she observed.

The white fir is on the larger side of the scale of giant Christmas trees, according to Victor Serrao, whose company, Victor's Custom Christmas Trees, is seeing the tree from the forest through the decoration stage.

Fashion Island's tree is about 22 feet shorter than the current tallest Christmas tree in Anthem, Ariz., which clocks in at 112 feet.

Serrao's family began their business in 1959 with a Christmas tree lot. A visit from a woman with a pink beehive hairdo and pink poodle got them into the customized tree market when Serrao's mother playfully suggested they make her a tree to match.

The customer loved the idea, and from there the family began creating specialized trees, later moving on to banks and other larger venues.

Serrao's sister designs the bows that go with the ornaments, and his wife will be among the decorators tackling the tree.

The tree-lighting ceremony Nov. 13 and 14 at Fashion Island is expected to be a star-studded event with Disney characters making an appearance.

lauren.williams@latimes.com

Twitter: @lawilliams30