COLUMBIA — Columbia’s Magic Tree will again brighten the city beginning at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at The Village of Cherry Hill’s Holiday Festival.
The Magic Tree has been a holiday season staple in Columbia for 17 years, and this is the second year The Village of Cherry Hill is hosting the tree at the corner of Scott Boulevard and Chapel Hill Road.
Randy Fletcher, also known as Will Treelighter, has been busy at work making his final touches to the Magic Tree. Fletcher said he spent close to 40 hours wrapping the tree with 35,000 colorful lights, two-thirds of which are LED lights. He also used incandescent lights on the tree, as well as four different kinds of color-changing lights with many different alternating color variations.
Fletcher said the purpose of the tree is to be a sensible act of beauty.
"It’s a reflection of what’s inside of you. I see the tree as kind of a sign, if you will, of extraordinary beauty to come in the world and the return of the one people of various religions expect to return," he said.
Fletcher recently released "The Magic Tree Book 1: Inspirations."
"It’s a collection of some of my photos and all of the past fliers for the tree since 2004. It also gives a brief history and talks about my purpose," Fletcher said.
The book includes photos of the first Magic Tree in 1995, as well as other photos from the early years of the tree's existence. It's available at the festival, the MU Bookstore and Shakespeare's Pizza.
Some Cherry Hill businesses are also participating in spirit of the Magic Tree. Several Magic Tree photos hang in the office of Focus on Health Chiropractic. Monitors displaying the history of the Magic Tree will also decorate the windows of the DeSpain Cayce Dermatology Center and Medical Spa.
"People can learn about the Magic Tree and see what it means to (Fletcher) by looking at the digital information," said John DeSpain, DeSpain Cayce dermatologist. "I think it will enhance the experience of the people who come."
In addition to the lighting of the tree, the festival, from 5 to 8 p.m., will also feature many family activities, including a horse-drawn carriage, carolers and a visit from Santa Claus.
"People come from all over to see the tree," DeSpain said. "They gather there to talk and take pictures. It’s just a magnet that draws people."