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Windblown Christmas Tree Knocks Broadway Actress Unconscious on UWS

By Ben Fractenberg | January 30, 2017 8:38am
 Former Broadway actress Patti Karr outside her West End Avenue home on Jan. 27, 2017.
Former Broadway actress Patti Karr outside her West End Avenue home on Jan. 27, 2017.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

UPPER WEST SIDE — Broadway actress Patti Karr doesn’t remember the moment a Christmas tree went flying through the air and knocked her unconscious as heavy winds tore through the city last week.

Karr, 85, was walking her Chihuahua-dachshund mix, Lillian Gish, back to her West End Avenue home when a strong gust lifted up a discarded tree still waiting for pickup on the curb and sent it crashing into her, witnesses told DNAinfo.

“I was feeling the wind, the next thing I knew I was in the ambulance on the way to the hospital,” Karr said Friday, sporting a black eye outside her building near the corner of West 76th Street.

The former actress and dancer — who starred in Broadway classics including "Pippin" and movies like "Mighty Aphrodite" — suffered bruises on her face and knees, as well as pain along the whole right side of her body. She spent a day at Mount Sinai West hospital. 

The incident happened as a nor'easter pummeled the city Jan. 23. On Friday, a large pile of Christmas trees was still stacked up along West 76th Street, more than a month after the holiday.

Christmas Trees

A pile of Christmas trees still sat on West 76th Street near West End Avenue Friday (DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg)

Karr said she thought the trees should have been cleaned up long before Monday’s storm.

“This year they really screwed up,” she said about the city, which extended its deadline for residents to leave their trees on the sidewalk for recycling pickup through this week.

“All the side streets were full of them.”

Her neighbor, Gary Cosimini, described Karr as “bleeding profusely” after the tree careened into her. An FDNY spokesman was unable to confirm if paramedics were involved.

“I was shocked,” the 66-year-old said, adding that Christmas trees are usually all picked up by the end of January.

“They shouldn’t have been left on the street. I think the city was pretty late.”

Karr said she was not planning legal action, and was full of pluck only days after her injury — recounting how, at 17, she took a three-day journey from Texas to New York on a Greyhound bus to try and make it as a dancer.

“I wanted to go to New York,” she said. “I talked about it so much, [my mother] was ready to throw me out.” 

A Department of Sanitation spokeswoman said the department extended the tree removal several weeks past Jan. 14 after three winter storms and the Martin Luther King holiday, which created a "backlog of uncollected trash." 

They expected to finish the tree removal by the end of this past weekend.