"He was such a quiet tree, really kept to himself," one Shelton, CT woman (who wanted to remain anonymous) declared, visibly shaken standing in its shadows. The tree, an imposing 76-foot-tall Norway Spruce, is beautiful, but was chopped down by a team of executioners acting on behalf of Rockefeller Center in New York City.

It's unclear what the tree did, aside from providing ample shade on hot summer days, and acting as a suitable perch for local birds and squirrels. But the mood in the sleepy town is mysteriously celebratory, and residents can't wait until the tree is hauled off to the big city, where it will arrive Friday morning.

There, dead and lifeless, it will be propped up as part of an annual tradition that is not unlike the Salem witch trials. People will gather around its stiff cold body for nearly two months before it's finally laid to rest, away from the leering crowds, to lay with its demons for eternity.