Magic trees are displayed outdoors and inside Boone County National Bank

Monday, December 22, 2008 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:52 p.m. CST, Tuesday, December 23, 2008
The magic tree at 303 Hickam Drive in Columbia has been lit for 14 consecutive years. The 28-foot-tall crab apple tree is 45 years old. It is decorated with 75,000 LED lights, which take owner Randy Fletcher about 120 hours to string on the branches. Lighting costs $10 per night for the tree.

COLUMBIA — For the past 14 years Columbia has been amazed by Randy Fletcher’s magic trees on Hickam Drive in south Columbia and Unity Church on Broadway.

This year, people also can view the holiday magic of one of his trees from inside Boone County National Bank’s lobby.

“The Art of Will Treelighter: Painter with Lights” includes about 20 photos of Fletcher’s creations over the years. He took the photographs to show the tree decorated in various ways.

The exhibit is open to the public weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. until noon through Jan. 1.

The trees themselves remain lighted until Jan. 6.

Mary Wilkerson, Boone County National Bank vice president of marketing, said the exhibit has drawn many admirers this holiday season.

“We’ve had a lot of really positive comments from people,” she says. “They really are enjoying it.

Fletcher began decorating his signature trees 14 years ago by wrapping all the branches of a crab apple tree in his yard with lights.

Last year he spent nearly 20 hours sorting through the lights, another 120 hours to wrap the tree and 80 hours to take down the lights. He used 86,000 lights on the crab apple.

He now prefers to be called Will Treelighter. “Will is my middle name and tree lighting is my game,” he said with a chuckle.

Fletcher said his work has a purpose: “A tree is a symbol of the life that is to come."

Another purpose is to point out how beauty affects us.

“We have the capacity to see beauty anywhere if you simply look for it,” he said. “By lighting the trees, I’m doing my little part to make a space for beauty.”




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