The most popular slogan in Oregon is “Keep Portland Weird” and we certainly lived up to the phrase in 2016. Lots of weird shenanigans occurred in our city, but the weird wasn’t limited to our metropolis. In fact, weird stories happened all over the globe, and a strange amount of them were related to trees. So, here are the top weird tree stories of 2016, one of which occurred in our own Rip City.
Firefighters Perform a Special Rescue
Brave men in uniform risk their lives every day to protect our communities and keep us from harm. However, on one weird winter day in Basalt, Colorado, firefighters were called to the rescue for an unusual circumstance. What was stuck in a tree? Not a bird, or a cat, but a 9-year-old boy’s drone. The child was playing with his newest tech toy when a strong gust of wind landed it in the branches. The boy’s family tried to knock it out with a football, but when that failed, grandma didn’t call a tree service. Instead, she phoned the police, the police enlisted the fire department, and the fire department rolled up with their ladder to safely extract the toy from the tree.
The ‘Next Level’ Christmas Tree
Christmas gets everyone in a festive mood as they decorate their suburban homes for the holidays. Some neighbors dawn their property with twinkling lights, others place festive figurines on their lawns, and even more share their beautifully decorated tree in the front window, including one Portland family who took it a wee bit further. Yes, their large tree was seen from the front of their Beaverton home, but the top was sticking out of the roof. Did they forget to measure and excitement overtook logic when they went to purchase their spruce? Nope; the father-son team said they were inspired by National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and created a jolly sight for passersby who posted the spectacle on social media creating the viral frenzy.
The Most Mocked Tree in the World
Cities throughout the world share in the holiday spirit and display a locally decorated Christmas tree in their town squares. Some, like the tree in Rockefeller Center in New York City, even gain global attention. Well, the City of Montreal was inspired by the grandeur and opted for their very own tall tree this year.
Hauled into town on a flatbed truck in the middle of the night, they thought the residents would adore the 88-foot balsam fir, but this was not to be. Instead, the skinny tree was decorated with mini red Canadian tire logos that, reported the local news, “only added to the tackiness.” Locals probably wanted to call a tree service to remove the monstrosity and quell the joke. Unfortunately, the mockery didn’t stop in Montreal. It spread far beyond the Canadian borders in the days leading up to Christmas and was mocked around the world. Rome called it “the ugliest Christmas tree in the world,” while Buzzfeed said it “looks like an erectile dysfunction.” The jokes spread so far and wide that even The New York Times and Washington Post shared the viral stories with its even more global network of readers.
Grandma and Her Tree House
Shawnee Chasser, a purple-haired grandmother, had been living in her Miami-Dade County tree house on her Florida property for more than a decade when the city came knocking last September. Chasser’s home nestled in a large oak is flooded with permitting violations. Everything from her plumbing to the electrical connections to the structure itself is deemed unsafe and has left her paying $10,000 with still $30,000 more owed to the city.
The Florida building code claims that Chasser’s violations are “a hazard not just to those on the property, but also to neighbors.” But she is prepared to fight. While the city is ready to enlist a tree service to knock it down, Chasser has hired an attorney to help get her home up to code and eliminate the fees. After a decade of tree house living, this unconventional grandmother has a weird story to share and isn’t giving up on her dream home, at least not yet.
100 Million Dead Trees in California
It’s not uncommon to hear about a diseased tree that needed removal or even a large swath of trees that were downed in a storm, but in November last year it was announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that more than 36 million trees died in California over a six-month period last year. This dramatic death toll brings the tree deaths in California to 102 million over 7.7 acres since 2010.
What could be causing such weird and alarming death rates? The answer is drought. With millions of trees weakened from the lack of rain and expected to die in the coming months and years, the U.S. Forest Service is stepping in. “These dead and dying trees continue to elevate the risk of wildfire, complicate our efforts to respond safely and effectively to fires when they do occur, and pose a threat to life and property across California,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Thankfully, California has been getting some of that much-needed rain so far this year.
Tree Man Arrested for Obstruction
In 2016, Portland, Oregon, wanted to keep things weird, but Portland, Maine, might have taken the cake, at least when it comes to strange tree stories as a man was arrested in October when he dressed as a tree and obstructed traffic.
Police initially escorted the man to the sidewalk and gave him a warning, but when 30-year-old Asher Woodworth walked back into the street, he was arrested. However, his $60 bail didn’t keep in behind bars for long. He was released that same evening.
“His motivation was to see how people would react to what [Asher] called ‘performance’,” Portland Assistant Police Chief Vern Malloch told the Portland Press Herald, “And how he might impact ‘people’s natural choreography’.”
Not only was this the strangest tree story of 2016, there is also a video so you can enjoy the unusual spectacle.
2016 was a pretty strange year for trees. Let’s see what we have to look forward to in 2017.