A tiny but proud tree decorated for the holidays and overlooking Interstate 30 in Fort Worth has disappeared, a sad and mysterious end to a tradition that had endured for decades.
The tree greeted drivers heading toward downtown for around 30 years. It was located between Oakland Boulevard and Beach Street.
It vanished a few days after Christmas.
"It was like a chainsaw. They just cut it off from the roots,” said Leslie Gordon, author of a children’s book about the landmark called “The Homeless Christmas Tree.”
“It makes me feel horrible,” Gordon said. “I don't know who would do that. I don't know why they'd do that. There's just no good reason for it."
Adding to the mystery: A nearby bench also was removed, and the grass in the area appears freshly cut.
Only a few ornaments remain on the ground.
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The Texas Department of Transportation owns the land but says it's "not aware of any activities in that area that would have involved those items being disturbed or removed."
A homeless woman, Carla Christian, started the tradition, decorating the little tree sometime around 1990.
"When she no longer could go up the hill, she asked the fire department to help her and they did," Gordon said.
Christian died in 2006, Gordon said.
After the mother tree, a mimosa, died about three years ago, Christian's son and granddaughters planted a new one, grown from the original's seed.
Volunteers continued to decorate it, not just for Christmas, but all year long.
There's already talk of replacing it.
City council member Cary Moon represents the area.
"The homeless tree and bench is a special place for many,” Moon said. “We will work to replace anything that was removed and to continue to commemorate the homeless tree."
"It's just kind of sad that it's all gone,” Gordon said. “Eventually, I suppose, it had to come to an end. This was a sad way to end it."