The writer adds a touch of flair to one of the Metro Parks holiday trees, now on display inside of Metro Hall.
By JON REITER
Visitors to Metro Hall (5th and Jefferson streets in downtown Louisville) will, for the next month, see 15 beautifully-decorated holiday trees adorning the main lobby for the next month as the city hosts its annual Light Up Louisville celebration.
The trees were decorated by staff and volunteers from various Metro Parks Community Centers, and aside from doing a great job decorating the trees, they’ve given the public a glimpse into the history of the centers themselves and the neighborhoods that call them home.
- The Russell Neighborhood, which houses the Baxter Community Center, was known in the 1940s as “Louisville’s Harlem” because of the contributions of its African-American residents to arts, music, culture and politics.
- The Beechmont Neighborhood (home to the Beechmont Community Center) came to be known as that because of the high concentration of Beech trees in the area.
- The California Neighborhood (home to the California Community Center) was named after the state of California because its first settlers found property and housing values to be so cheap they equated it to the California Gold Rush of 1848-49.
- The Parkland Neighborhood (also known as Southwick, home to the Southwick Community Center) was ripped apart by a tornado in 1890, and had to be rebuilt, piece-by-piece.
The city is encouraging folks to come downtown to enjoy the annual holiday parade and show of lights that has become most closely associated with Light Up Louisville on Friday, Nov. 26. But be sure to stroll through the rotunda in Metro Hall and take a look at the beautiful work that was done on these trees by our staff – and to learn a little bit of history about your community while doing so.
Learn more: http://www.lightuplouisville.org
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Thelma and Ben Alley of Louisville donated their 45-foot blue spruce to serve as this year's official Light Up Louisville Holiday Tree.
By MARGARET BROSKO
This year’s Light Up Louisville Christmas tree will be a 45-foot tall blue spruce donated by Thelma and Ben Alley of Louisville. When the Alleys moved into their house on Southern Parkway in July 1984, the couple remembers the previous owner, Mr. William Knapper, pointing out one unique feature. It was a blue spruce in the center of the front yard, standing about eight feet tall. Mr. Knapper told the couple the tree was given to him as a sapling by an Army buddy.
He planted the knee-high blue spruce and never thought it would amount to anything. But the Alleys watched it grow and the tree became a part of their family. In 1986, the tree was infected by spider mites and the top half looked dead. But Ben and Thelma refused to let it go. The couple got rid of the pests and nursed the tree back to health.
Over the years, the spruce, their house and their family were tied together. Visitors would be guided to their house by looking for the big blue spruce in the front yard – it couldn’t be missed. Over the last couple of years, the Alleys talked about cutting down the tree. “It’s taking over the yard,” they said.
In mid October, they had a new plan. Mayor-elect Greg Fischer knocked on the couple’s door while campaigning and commented on the beauty of the spruce. The Alley’s expressed their desire for a little more yard space. Fischer informed them of an article in the paper that very day with information that Metro Parks was searching for the city’s holiday tree. Thelma immediately called. She thought this was a great way to honor Mr. Knapper’s tree.
The Alleys are thrilled their tree was selected and immediately called their friends and family to share the news. They are looking forward to Light up Louisville and eager to share the tree they took care of for over 26 years with the entire city.
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