Chandler, Arizona

Tumbleweed Christmas Tree

Every Christmas one Arizona city makes the most of its dry climate by creating an arid desert tannenbaum. 

Christmas traditions can be a challenge in places that rarely see a day of cold all year, but in the Arizona city of Chandler, they have simply adapted their traditions to match the climate but forming a pile of their native tumbleweeds into the shape of a festive fir tree each year.

Dating all the way back to 1957, the city takes its tradition quite seriously. Beginning around September, city workers begin collecting the dried Russian thistle bushes (better known as tumbleweeds) that roll across the landscape. It takes around 1,000 of the iconic dead plants to create the massive “tree” each year. The collected tumbleweeds are placed around a chicken wire frame to give the attraction the shape of a wide, full tree, before being coated in a more pleasing shade of Christmas white and flame retardant (this is not the Gavle Goat). Finally the whole thing is assaulted with over 65 pounds of glitter, and strung with Christmas lights which are activated in a yearly ceremony full of pomp and circumstance.

While it may not be have the size or reach of something along the lines of the tree at Rockefeller Center, in its way, Chandler’s Tumbleweed Christmas Tree is far more unique and Christmas-y given that they have to invent their tree each year just to show how much they love the spirit.   

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