Lakeview Decorating Decision Ends In Holiday Buzzkill

By Lisa White in News on Dec 24, 2013 3:00PM

Photo credit: Frank Rico

A poor decorating choice by Central Lakeview Merchants Association ended in an embarrassing publicity move this past weekend. Earlier this month the association put up nearly 650 trees on poles across the neighborhood, which drew mixed reactions, some neighbors stated they looked like "sad, hulking beasts" intended for trash pick-up, DNAinfo Chicago reported. The idea was people who couldn't afford Christmas trees could pick up one of the decorative ones and take it home the weekend before Christmas. The drive was this past Saturday and the business associations told DNAinfo it was "a success" with a donation of 51 trees.

This meant nearly 600 trees were left unclaimed. We're not the greatest at math but we are pretty sure percentage-wise that isn't a success. They got rid of roughly 8 percent of the decorations and although it has been a spell since we were in school, pretty sure anything under 50 percent is failing. But Jeff Briggs, the person who does business relations for the association, is sticking to his guns:

"It was just a successful day," said Jeff Briggs. "That's the best way to sum it up."

DNAinfo goes a bit more in depth about the mystery surrounding how the trees were acquired.

Central Lakeview Merchants uses property tax money from special service area No. 17, an area that spans Irving Park to Diversey. The funds are used to bolster city services such as trash pick-up and beautification.

Earlier this month, executive director Gus Isacson refused to say whether the trees were paid for by tax money or not.

"People are getting a free tree," Isacson said. "What do they care where the money comes from?"

By the way, the trees had a value of $45 each and the association bought 644 trees. We're sure they probably received a discount but still, that is a lot of green for something that will end up thrown away within a month. Briggs told DNAinfo the remaining trees that were not donated will stay up until after Christmas.

If a huge part of your holiday theme was offering these trees for free to families that couldn't afford one, perhaps you should have rented a van and delivered some? Especially to families that do not own a car and cannot drag a 6-foot tall tree across town on the CTA? We're sure one of the local businesses would have even offered up a van to make holiday tree deliveries to these families. Instead of making the season brighter, Central Lakeview Merchants just made it feel like a bummer.