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Getting the SMILE Tree lit over Oaks Bottom this year required a successful GoFundMe drive; the publ,ic came thru

DAVID F. ASHTON - Braving the brisk breeze, high above Oaks Bottom, while decorating the SMILE Christmas Tree, were arborist Damon Schrosk and volunteer co-organizer Matt Hainley. The more than three-decades-long tradition of the Hainley and Heiberg families recruiting friends and neighbors to help deck out a towering fir tree, on Oaks Bottom Bluff, with the help of residents' contributions did continue this year. The "Go Fund Me" campaign to pay for incidental costs and equipment raised enough money for it to continue.

This is always a two-part event – the first of which is "decorating day" – this year on Saturday, November 21.

The "ground crew" was expertly supervised by Bruce Heiberg. "This year, we counted all of the bulbs, and found that we have 850 LED lights on the SMILE Christmas tree; each was screwed in and checked by hand, then the strings of lights were hoisted into place, with the help of about 20 people," Heiberg told THE BEE.

DAVID F. ASHTON - Neighbors on S.E. 13th Avenue, on the Bybee Curve, applauded their approval - as the SMILE Christmas Tree was lit for the first time this year. This year, "Pape Rents" again donated the use of the high-lift – tall enough to reach the top of the tree – expertly run by volunteers Don Bolton and Randy McAdams.

"We couldn't do it without the help of our arborist friends at Treecology, Inc., who actually climb up inside the tree to the very top, tying off the strands and securing the star," acknowledged Matt Hainley.

The organizers said they're again thankful for Emily and Isaac Edwards, the property owners of the lot on which the tree stands; and, to Dr. Dan Beeson, D.C., who is again donating the electricity to illuminate the brilliant LED bulbs.

DAVID F. ASHTON - Near the top of the tall living fir tree, volunteer Randy McAdams was hanging one of the first strings of lights on this years shining SMILE Christmas Tree.

Tree lit on evening of Thanksgiving Day

The second part of the tree-lighting process came on the evening of Thanksgiving Day. Due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, the organizers temporarily closed off S.E. 13th Avenue near the tree on the Bybee Curve in Westmoreland, to allow social-distancing neighbors into the street for the official tree-lighting ceremony.

DAVID F. ASHTON - Matt Hainley held a flashlight while young Cora Lax led the group of spectators singing carols at the SMILE Christmas Tree lighting on Oaks Bottom Bluff, on the evening of Thanksgiving Day. After singing a couple of Christmas carols, the group counted down – and the now-iconic Southeast Portland Christmas Tree, visible from the west side of the Willamette River and from Interstate Five, brightly beamed its greetings for all to enjoy.


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