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San Francisco

Pop-Up Christmas Tree

Have you noticed the Christmas tree at the corner of Haight and Ashbury, just outside Ben and Jerry's? It seemed so uniquely Haight Street - we had to know what's going on. Turns out, the tree is the work of a notorious relic from the Haight's hippie past. Read on.

The freestanding community spruce goes up every year, as if by magic. Here it is, in all its glory:

Legend has it that Fast Eddie puts up the tree. Fast Eddie, for the uninitiated, is an Old Guard hippie from the Grateful Dead days, who still lives at 712 Ashbury Street, next door to the old Dead house. (In our googling to learn more about Fast Eddie, we stumbled on this pretty amazing thread with tons of photos and videos and myths and facts about him and the Wrecking Crew. Have a cup of coffee first - it goes on for SEVEN PAGES. We digress! Back to the tree.) Basically, it's gorgeously decorated, with tons of flowers, ornaments, cards, and even handmade garland. An immaculately brand new-looking two-foot-tall Santa sits on top. It's so packed full of stuff that smaller, shrine-like creations have popped up around it - its neighbor tree is covered in flowers and garland, there's a wreath on the telephone pole next to it, and random city equipment has been wrapped in red foil paper. What's amazing is that all of the decorations have been donated by random passersby. Our friend at Ben and Jerry's said it's amazing to watch strangers come up and decorate it, and that it really creates a sense of community. He told us nobody messes with it - it just grows and grows. "Honestly, I think all neighborhoods should have one." Here are some more pictures of its fineries, starting with Giant Santa:
People stuck Christmas Cards in the branches:
There are entire stuffed animals in there:
Handmade garland:
Check it out! If you stick an ornament on there, take a picture for us.
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