Metal Monstrosity Invades Downtown Dallas

The metal monstrosity
The tree sits and waits for tomorrow night's fanfare.
photography by Chris Plavadil

Maybe monstrosity is too harsh. However, I’ve been looking forward to tomorrow night’s City Lights celebration for about as long as the people at Neiman Marcus have been building their “Big Encounters of the Little Kind” display (which, for those of you who don’t live right next to the store, seems like it’s been about three months, 24 hours a day, seven days a week).

When I heard there was a Christmas tree at Main Street Garden, I imagined a gorgeous evergreen, much like the one that graces Rockefeller Center. Obviously I didn’t do my homework and look up the tree from the year before. So I was surprised when I was greeted by a 65-foot-tall metal structure adorned with more than 10,000 feet of LED lights. I don’t get it. It’s so flashy. And cold. I just don’t feel like it reflects my neighborhood that well. So I asked Kourtny (no e) Garrett, senior vice president of marketing for Downtown Dallas, Inc., to tell me the reasoning behind the metal tree.

“It was designed by the park landscape architect Thomas Balsley to specifically compliment the architecture of the park and grandeur of the surrounding buildings,” she says. “The intent was to reflect the modern, yet warm design of the park (clean lines, etc) as well as the history that surrounds it, for example even the facets in the tree can be said to mimic the historic chevrons on the Statler.

In addition, from a sustainability perspective, a permanent structure is much more efficiently maintained.”

That got me wondering how efficient it could be with all that metal and the thousands of lights. Garrett explained that the city of Dallas park department’s welding shop sculpted and welded the tree, the light design was contributed by LightSwitch, landscape architect Thomas Balsley designed the tree pro-bono, Holly Metal Fabricators donated a large portion of the metal,  and Excitement Technologies Group donated labor. Efficient, indeed. And they’re not killing a tree every year. Knowing this and learning about the background of the tree, I do appreciate it more. And I’ll ooh and aaw as it’s all lit up tomorrow night. But I still think an evergreen would be a bit prettier.

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