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Wood chipper reincarnates Christmas trees in Queens

"It ensures that thousands of trees that would otherwise be dumped in the trash are recycled," Bloomberg said during the press conference in Woodhaven last Thursday. "It is easy. It is fun and it helps make our city more beautiful."Proving his point, the mayor - dressed in a leather jacket and loafers - tossed more than a half-dozen Christmas trees into a giant buzzing shredder. He got some help from city Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe and Department of Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty. Benepe said donors should bring plastic bags to take away free mulch. Other chips will be used as bedding for city park trails and gardens. "It's a great way to chip in and make a healthy environment," Benepe said. "It's one of the new holiday traditions here in New York."This will be the fourth Mulchfest. Last year the city recycled 25,719 trees, which is equivalent to the number growing in Central Park, Bloomberg said. This year's event takes place on Jan. 8-9 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Queens will have five drop-off points: Parking Lot 2 of Cunningham Park at Union Turnpike and Francis Lewis Boulevard in Fresh Meadows; Juniper Valley Park at 80th Street and North Juniper Boulevard in Middle Village; the Forest Park bandshell at Forest Park Drive west of Woodhaven Boulevard in Woodhaven; Astoria Park at 19th Street and Hoyt Avenue in Astoria; and the park at Beach 94th Street at the intersection of the Shore Front Parkway and Beach 94th Street in the Rockaways.The following restrictions apply: All the plants must be holiday trees or wreaths, they must be dropped off between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and they must be stripped of decorations."So remember: Remove all tree lights, ornaments, stands," Bloomberg said. The Department of Sanitation will also be collecting trees on curbs from Jan. 6 to Jan. 15.Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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