Monday, December 15, 2014

Woodmoor Christmas Tree

It's been a while since I've posted, as I've been busy with schoolwork and finals.  Blogging can be a lot of fun, but it also entails a significant amount of work (or at least it does to write well-researched quality posts).  I'm back home on winter break now, so I'll be posting every few days as I did in the summer.

I returned to Woodmoor during one of my favorite times of the year in Woodmoor: the Christmas season.  While I'm not a fan of December weather, I enjoy this time of year because of the pride our community displays during the holidays.  I can't think of any neighborhood in the D.C. area that decorates as much as we do, much less one with a decorating contest.  A true hallmark of the Christmas season in Woodmoor is the lighting of Woodmoor Christmas Tree.

The tree lighting is perhaps the most well known tradition in Woodmoor, and it has been a neighborhood tradition for over 60 years. Recently, however, there has been some debate about the future of the tree.

The Woodmoor-Pinecrest Citizens Association has began a "save the tree fund" to pay for future lighting and maintenance of the tree, which stands in the middle of the traffic circle at Woodmoor Drive and Lexington Drive.  A post on the Woodmoor Listserv about this fund generated some discussion about the tree and its history, present, and future.

A couple residents expressed their opinions that the tree should be replaced due to it's age and storm damage.  The tree has lost several limbs over the years during storms, leaving large gaps in the branches and splitting the top of the trunk into two halves.  While the tree is structurally sound, it definitely shows it's age.  The residents argued that the current tree should be cut down and replaced by a new tree (which could either be planted or transplanted in the old tree's place).  

The light up at night during the Christmas season.  Photo from Hallco Painting (the company that put the lights on the tree).

Understandably, the suggestion of cutting down the tree drew a passionate response from many people, most of whom argued that the current tree should stay put.  The proponents of keeping the tree stated that the tree has character and history which could not be replaced, and that it is in healthy condition despite it's weathered appearance.  The primary argument was that the tree should remain until it is brought down by nature, whenever that time may come.        

I find merit in both sides of this debate, so I can't take a firm stance on this issue.  I like having the old tree because it is a Woodmoor institution which predates my time in the neighborhood by decades.  It's the tree I grew up with, and it is the primary Woodmoor landmark (aside from our iconic shopping center).  The tree is so prominent, a drawing of it is featured on the cover of the neighborhood directory.  On the other hand, a new tree could provide the opportunity for new generations of Woodmooreans to make their own memories, and if planted correctly and maintained well, it could be around for even longer than the old tree.  A new tree would certainly start out smaller than the old one, so it would not have the same presence that the current tree has in the neighborhood.  But who knows, maybe it wouldn't be a bad thing to have a smaller tree for a while (it would certainly be cheaper and easier to light).

So what do you think?  Should the neighborhood let the tree stick around as long as nature allows, or should it be replaced by a new one?

In cconclusion this may be a moot point, since the tree is on county land and falls under the jurisdiction of MCDOT.  Perhaps if the neighborhood really wanted the tree replaced, MCDOT would cut it down and plant a new one.  At this time, however, it takes MCDOT several months to a year just to cut down dead trees along its right-of-ways.  Cutting down a tree which an arborist has declared as healthy is not going to be a high priority.

Either way, the tree lighting tradition will continue, and tradition's like it will continue to make our community a great place to live.


  1. I proposed to my wife under that tree!
    I say keep it.

    Joe Marks

  2. I was one of Santa's Elves delivering candy to the children before the tree was lit... when I was 12. Now I am 75. Loooong time. It is looking a bit sad, I think if a good size tree could be found it could be time to give Woodmoor a new tree. I was at 16 Woodmoor Drive for 40 years, celebrated the lighting each year with my two boys!
    Dottie White

  3. fond memories of a wonderful childhood and growing up years.
    I hope that they wil somehow have a tree and carry on the tradition no matter what :)

  4. I am happy to see that the old tree is still in place, and despite it's weathered appearance, it has been declared as healthy. I agree that as long as it remains healthy, let nature lead the way. However, knowing that a replacement tree is in the works in the event that this old boy comes down; makes my heart happy.

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