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Lakeview Christmas Trees Donated to 51 Families, But Nearly 600 Remain

By Serena Dai | December 23, 2013 11:19am
 Central Lakeview Merchants Association paid Patch Landscaping to put up Christmas trees as decoration around the neighborhood. Some of the trees were given away Saturday, but about 600 trees remain.
Leftover Christmas Trees in Lakeview
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LAKEVIEW — A local business association donated 51 Christmas trees as part of a holiday giveaway over the weekend, calling the promotion "a success."

Central Lakeview Merchants Association put up nearly 650 trees on poles across the neighborhood this month as decorations, with the idea that people who couldn't afford trees could have picked one up last Saturday. Though there were nearly 600 trees remaining, the group was happy with the results.

"It was just a successful day," said Jeff Briggs, who does business relations for the group. "That's the best way to sum it up."

The business association bought the 644 trees from Patch Landscaping, with a $45 value each, for the promotion, Briggs said. The 6-foot, undecorated trees were tied to light poles throughout Wrigleyville and Lakeview, all the way down to Diversey Parkway.

Central Lakeview Merchants uses property tax money from special service area No. 17, an area that spans Irving Park Road to Diversey Parkway. The funds are used to bolster city services such as trash pickup and beautification.

Earlier this month, the merchants' executive director, Gus Isacson, refused to say whether the trees were paid for by tax money or not. 

"People are getting a free tree," Isacson said. "What do they care where the money comes from?"

On Saturday, 51 families went to Houndstooth, 3369 N. Clark St.,  and Baker and Nosh, 1303 W. Wilson Ave., to pick up trees, with people both driving from faraway neighborhoods and others walking from nearby, Briggs said.

"We had families come from all over," Briggs said.

As neighborhood decorations, the trees drew mixed reactions, with some neighbors calling them "sad, hulking beasts" that looked intended for trash pick-up without any trimmings. 

Some businesses ended up adopting the trees outside their doors by adding tinsel or ribbons, though it was "sporadic," Briggs said.

The remaining, undonated Christmas trees will stay up until after Christmas, Briggs said.