LONGMONT, Colo. -- For some people, the giant cottonwood tree on Pratt Street is just another tree in a neighborhood filled with dozens of them.
"They are part of the charm of Old Town Longmont," said neighbor Rick Anderson.
But for the McDonald Family, that tree is a symbol of something more.
"My parents planted three trees -- including this one -- 38 years ago to represent their three daughters," said Erin Dawe, whose parents still live in the historic home. "We really do feel like it's representing our mother's strength and perseverance and her massive fight to stay alive."
Their mother, Patty McDonald, is in the hospital now. She and their father, Kent, watched the trees grow strong with their young family.
"It is so important because -- I'm going to get emotional -- but this is the home where we grew up. This is holidays spent picnicking under this canopy of shade," said Dawe.
But the McDonalds unknowingly planted the cottonwood on city right-of-way.
The city would not comment, citing pending litigation, but released a statement:
"The City has been working with the neighborhood on this issue for more than 25 years. Many attempts have been made to mitigate the negative impacts resulting from the tree, yet none made a significant improvement. A neighborhood involvement effort has been underway for more than a year to find a solution to this issue. Considering all options based on neighborhood and staff input as well as the Council-approved ordinance on nuisance trees on city property, the City has determined that it is best that the tree be removed and replaced. Because litigation has been threatened in this matter, the City is unable to comment further."
So, the McDonald family filed a request for a temporary restraining order, saying the roots of the tree go deep into their property and into their lives.
Borrowing from the Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, the family said they speak for the tree they hope is still standing when their mother gets out of the hospital.
"That's how much it means to us and to our mom," said Dawe. "We'll keep fighting as long as we can."
The family will be in court Wednesday, and the city said removal has been postponed indefinitely until the legal issues are resolved.