SMILE's community Christmas Tree can be seen from I-5 -- but it still needs new lights

DAVID F. ASHTON - Santa Claus, standing by the Sellwood-Westmoreland Christmas Tree on the Oaks Bottom Bluff, says hes hopeful new strings of LED lights will decorate it this Holiday Season. Every Holiday season, a hearty band of intrepid Sellwood neighbors have kept the tradition of festively lighting a giant fir tree on S.E. 13th Avenue on the Bybee curve, overlooking Oaks Bottom.

Last year, when THE BEE documented the stringing process, volunteers handled the aging electrical wires gingerly, hoping to get one more season out of them without a short circuit setting the tree ablaze – or before they disintegrated entirely.

This year, the Sellwood Moreland Improvement League (SMILE) neighborhood association is the fiscal sponsor of a fundraising effort set into motion by Rachel Ginocchio and Matt Hainley to purchase a set of new, colorful, energy-efficient – and safe – LED lights. The campaign began several months ago and reached about a third of the goal. Now, with the Christmas season rapidly approaching, the campaign is ramping up and hoping to reach a level which will permit buying the new lights before Thanksgiving, when the tree is to be lit again. If that isn't possible, the old lights will carefully be put back up, and the campaign will continue. Some donors have returned and added to the total repeatedly.

SMILE is a 501(c)(3) corporation, and all donations are tax deductible; contributions of all sizes are welcomed. Donating is easy and can be done online, via a GoFundMe page –

Or, you can write a check made payable to "SMILE", put "Xmas Tree Fund" in the check's memo line, and send it to: 8210 S.E. 13th Avenue, Portland OR, 97202.

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