Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's Arizona's Version of the Poe Toaster

That is to say, a mystery recurring over many years, to the delight of local residents.

Once upon a time on a Thanksgiving weekend long ago, an unassuming juniper tree on Arizona Interstate 17 became more than just a tree.

Under cover of darkness, parties unknown adorned the evergreen with ribbons and ornaments and tinsel so that motorists between Phoenix and Flagstaff might smile and admire its cheery demeanor.

As sometimes happens, the secret trimming became a holiday tradition, and it became a subject of Arizona lore.

The spectacle was dubbed "Mystery Christmas Tree."

For about three decades, travelers eagerly awaited a glittering diversion in the median near Milepost 254, just north of the Sunset Point rest area.

Investigative journalists tried -- and failed -- to identify the anonymous decorators. Some folks credited Santa's helpers. Others insisted that Arizona Highway Patrol officers or Department of Transportation workers were involved.

But no one was ever caught in the act, and nobody stepped forward.

Just like the Poe Toaster, whose decades-long tradition of "toasting" the grave of Edgar Allan Poe on the occasion of the poet's annual January birthday sadly came to an end a couple of years ago.


Rev. Paul said...

I hope the tradition continues, and that no one is ever identified/outed as the decorator. Some mysteries are just to be enjoyed. :)

Bob said...

@Rev.Paul: I agree. I was heartbroken when the Poe Toaster tradition came to an end. That was the result of the 2nd generation Toaster (the first grew old and eventually died) not being as dedicated as the original one.