By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
It’s beginning to look like Christmas on Pilot Butte, where a lonely juniper tree glitters with lights, ornaments and a bit of controversy.
The decorated tree stands out in the dark thanks to a string of solar powered lights.
“We decided last year we really needed to decorate this tree and it just kind of took off,” said Cheryl Loomis, a Bend resident. “Not only did we decorate with ornaments and lights but folks on the trail, the hikers and the runners, started bringing ornaments and putting them on the tree also; that made it really special.”
Despite Cheryl Loomis’ efforts to share the holiday spirit, a grinch with a park ranger badge came calling a few days ago and took the decorations down.
“I was crushed,” Loomis said. “We’ve all been through such a miserable year of threats and everything taken away from us. And now you’re taking away this peace of joy that we’ve given to the community. It’s just not fair.”
Loomis pleaded with the park manager to allow the decorations and he softened, under the condition that lights and ornaments aren’t permanent structures.
“He said ‘OK, I’m going to let it go, I’ll inform the host and let the other ranger know. You go ahead and put your ornaments up,'” Loomis said. “We couldn’t get here fast enough in the dark at 5:30 this morning to put up all our lights and ornaments again.”
“I’m up here every day. It brings joy. It makes me feel good to see it, especially in the dark. It’s beautiful,” said Stanley Minton of Bend.
Loomis promises she and her trail hiking friends will take down the decorations after Christmas and clean up any mess.
“Anyone can add to it,” Loomis said. “We would love it. I am going to put a few more lights up. We’ve got our star up there this morning on a pole. We had a little help with that. We found a tall person on the trail.”
It may not be Whoville, but Bend appears to have been saved from the Grinch, thanks to a compassionate park manager and few festive volunteers.