The lighting of the Magic Tree set for Thursday

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 | 9:56 p.m. CST

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."

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James Krewson December 1, 2011 | 2:09 a.m.

Seriously? The word "Magic" is being substituted for the word "Christmas" when describing Columbia's "holiday" tree? The word magic has ties directly to the religion of Wicca, so you are essentially replacing one religion with another. Isn't it enough that you have Halloween to celebrate magic, witches, etc? Can't you just leave Christmas alone? Can you imagine the outrage if you messed around with a Muslim holiday like this?

(Report Comment)
Gerald Shelnutt December 1, 2011 | 5:14 a.m.

Get real. Magic tree.

In your leave a comment section it forbids several things. One of those is attack religion. If I can't, why can you?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 1, 2011 | 6:21 a.m.

Actually, Halloween IS connected to a major Roman Catholic Christian holy day: All Saints Day (November 1st). The proper name for the night before All Saints Day was All Hallows Even (meaning evening).

I'm sure they cover that in one or another of the J-school courses. Right?

So in our celebration of "glorious secularism" we must now consider dumping Halloween. It's tainted with religious connotation. :)

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle December 1, 2011 | 6:31 a.m.

Christmas will survive just fine, thanks to countless celebrants around the world. The existence of a "Magic Tree" poses no threat. Be grown-ups about this.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 1, 2011 | 7:32 a.m.

To some, whom are seeing the fruits of their intent (remove or reduce the Christian Religion as a factor in our lives) being fulfilled through education and litigation (The Christian Post:
A Gallup poll released Monday highlights the religious spilt between Democrats and Republicans, showing that 52 percent of Democrats seldom or never attend church.) no action, such as this tree being promoted during the season of Jesus' birthday should be considered as a threat.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking December 1, 2011 | 8:10 a.m.

The Christmas tree, of course, is an adaptation of a pagan solstice symbol. Evergreens were considered special, and ancients would decorate their homes with boughs of evergreens to celebrate the eventual return of spring, and fresh foods.

Christianity has adopted a lot of pagan symbols for its holidays. It doesn't matter if you call it a Christmas tree, or a Magic tree, or a Solstice tree. We have a lot more pressing things to worry about.


(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 1, 2011 | 8:12 a.m.

Tim Trayle says we should "Be grown-ups about this." Actually, that's not bad advice, but Mr. Trayle telling us to be grown-ups is a bit like the proprietress of Miss Kitty's House of Carnal Pleasure telling her hard working female employees that they must jealously guard their chastity.

More on All Saints Day and Halloween. Our friends in the Republic of Mexico make a much bigger thing about that than we do. It goes on for several days, and there is even a national symbol, "La Catrina," a female skeleton. How do we know the skeleton is female? Because it wears a woman's hat, necklaces, etc.* Is there something scary about a skeleton as a national symbol? Ain't any scarier than some of what goes on in Washout, D. C.

*-Could be it's actually a male skeleton that's a cross-dresser.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 1, 2011 | 8:47 a.m.

Mark Foecking - "It doesn't matter if you call it a Christmas tree, or a Magic tree, or a Solstice tree. We have a lot more pressing things to worry about."

To conservatives, but not so much liberals, this one of the Most pressing things we have to worry about.

"To some, whom are seeing the fruits of their intent (remove or reduce the Christian Religion as a factor in our lives) being fulfilled through education and litigation"

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 1, 2011 | 9:23 a.m.

Frank, Magic Tree is the name given to it by a private individual who has been decorating a tree (formerly at his private residence, now at the Village of Cherry Hill) of his own free will. Are you now claiming that someone is not free to do what they want if you feel it impinges upon your religious beliefs? I will soon be putting up a Christmas tree at my house, but I might refer to it as Bob if it gets your knickers in a wad.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 1, 2011 | 10:07 a.m.

John Schultz - You are reading words that are not in my post, is it the smoke?

My comment was to those preferring the absence of religion, which deters allegiance to government and their insistence that no action in this, not so subtle, "war" on Christianity, should ever considered a "threat".

Would you like to comment on that?

(Report Comment)
Joy Mayer December 1, 2011 | 10:10 a.m.

Good morning, folks.

According to a KOMU story linked on the Magic Tree website, the name "Magic Tree" came from the title of a child's painting.

The website discusses in-depth the spiritual aspects of the tree:

Joy Mayer,
Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub December 1, 2011 | 10:11 a.m.

Has anybody heard of the Magi? If those that seem to believe that this time of year is only about the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, then our educational system is sorely lacking. Jesus' life was about giving, sharing, and most importantly tolerance, all seem to be lacking in this thread - with the exception of the truly giving spirit of Will Treelighter.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 1, 2011 | 10:22 a.m.

Frank, just what do you mean by "is it the smoke?" Are you trying to make a veiled personal attack there, or am I reading too much into that statement?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 1, 2011 | 11:00 a.m.

Gary Straub:

Suppose that instead of the Magi, three Lutheran ladies had shown up at Bethlehem. They would have:

1- Asked for directions in advance.

2- Arrived on time for the birth.

3- Brought practical gifts.

4- Cleaned the stable.

5- Held a bake sale to raise funds for the Holy Family.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 1, 2011 | 11:15 a.m.

Joy beat me to it.

You guys are jumping the gun on this.

This was never a "traditional" Christmas tree type of thing. It was never called the Christmas tree and then ammended for correctness... I don't know if the original treelighter coined the term or what, but it has always been called the magic tree and it never was anything close to the type of tree or form of tree that we would traditionaly consider to be a Christmas tree.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 1, 2011 | 11:15 a.m.

Get a grip John. As a libertarian do you not favor legalization of drugs? If I'm wrong and you are truly offended, I truly apologize.

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm December 1, 2011 | 11:18 a.m.

"Get a grip John"

Oh the irony!

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 1, 2011 | 11:52 a.m.

Oh, so it's OK for you to accuse me of smoking pot (which I do not) because of my belief that the War on Some Drugs is another massive governemnt failure? THAT is one of the top five government scandals since WW2. And I do not accept your weak "sorry I may have offended you when I was trying to offend you" apology. You knew exactly what you were intending when you typed the words.

I don't advocate that people use drugs, but if they do it at home and don't harm other people (just like people drinking at home and not driving on the road), then what business is it of mine? Let the police focus on real crime and treat drug addiction as a medical problem, not a legal one.

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks December 1, 2011 | 1:24 p.m.

Perhaps James Krewson has not lived in Columbia that long and does not know the significance of the Magic Tree or what it is all about. He might be basing he thoughts about Christmas from what he hears everyday across the country where it is illegal to use the word Christmas anymore. Those of use that have seen the tree or heard the origins of it know that it has nothing to do with Christmas and was based on a painting. Cut the guy some slack.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 1, 2011 | 2:57 p.m.

@ John Schultz:

John, if you don't straighten up I'm going to turn those three Lutheran ladies loose on you [see my post above].

Hell hath no fury like three matronly Lutheran women. :)

(If you disbelieve me, ask Garrison Keillor.)

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 1, 2011 | 3:38 p.m.

Ellis, I have a little experience with that. My mothers side are all German Lutherans. There were three sisters of my grandpa that were known as "The Aunts". Whenever anyone went astray the saying was, "What would the aunts say?". The threat of "The Aunts" wrath was used to scare two generations straight!

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 2, 2011 | 7:47 a.m.

mike mentor:

My maternal grandmother was one of 8 sisters. Ten children were born, but the two males died in infancy. Only 3 of the girls married; the other five occupied a house in Lincoln, Illinois, known to the family as "The Aunt Hill." Two of the sisters were medical doctors.

I can still remember when one of my great aunts took my mother and me to see a movie matinee with singers Nelson Eddy and Jeanette McDonald. I squirmed in my seat all through the movie, but afterward Great Aunt Laura took us to an old fashioned ice cream parlor and I got to pick the flavor or ice cream I wished.

My other grandmother was German - born in Germany.

(Report Comment)

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