The Alternative Tree Befits Laguna Style

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A reader suggests a replacement for the dying pepper tree, which serves as a focal point of Hospitality Night.
A reader suggests a replacement for the dying pepper tree, which serves as a focal point of Hospitality Night.

It has been decided. The beloved pepper tree in front of City Hall must come down. It is badly diseased, no longer structurally safe and cannot be saved.

I understand the city of Laguna has considered cloning the 135-year-old tree that has for so many years, served as our town’s Christmas tree. However cloning it could cost as much as $13,000. I’d like to make a suggestion.

Have you seen the other tree that grows in front of city hall just about 30 feet to the right of the pepper tree, if you are facing the front door? It is a very tall crooked pine. It is even taller than the pepper tree and has all the charm and character of an art community.

It’s twisted trunk and leaning top make it look like it might be suffering some affliction, but in fact it is perfectly healthy. Scientists have figured out that these pines (Araucaria columnaris) always lean towards the equator, but they’re not quite sure why. Nonetheless, its crookedness makes it artistic, whimsical and fun. It would make a perfect Dr. Suess holiday tree. It is right out of Whoville! I think it would delight adults and kids alike to see it strung up in lights with a star askew its top.

“Pick me. Pick me to be your Christmas tree,” I thought I heard it say as I passed by the other day. That same day I also heard a rumor that the city was thinking of cutting it down too. So I am writing this letter on behalf of a tree that can’t speak for itself. Please could we give this crooked pine a chance to prove itself? Could we light it on Hospitality Night and let it be our Christmas tree in front of city hall this year?

I have a feeling, once decorated, this wonderful crooked pine might just outshine the old pepper tree. What do you say? Let’s give it a try! After all, it might save the city $13,000. Now that’s a Christmas gift!

Jessica deStefano, Laguna Beach




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