The Story Behind the 17th Street Christmas Tree
From Dito Sevilla. Email him at dito[AT]borderstan.com, follow him on Twitter @DitoDC.
The tradition all started in 2004. That’s when the restaurant located at 1602 17th Street (now Floriana) set-up a small, fake tree outside of the restaurant’s main door.
However, after years and years of decorating, I called it off. It was too expensive and there were other complications involved in the holiday tradition.
When the current owner purchased the restaurant, he seemed unaware we had a holiday hiatus and asked to get a tree for the season. We worked with Frank from OLD CITY green and bought a 12-footer. That year restored the annual tradition at Floriana.
“We’re Italian after all. We love Christmas,” says Dino Tapper, the owner of Floriana. “And Dito, well he’s just crazy about it. Were just happy to have a place where he can basically let his Christmas spirit explode. The kids love it, the neighbors love it — the only thing we don’t love about it is taking it all down.”
Currently, we are on our third and largest natural tree, of which I select the shape, the style and the thousands of decorations that adorn the branches.
Recycling decorations from previous years is important, for tradition as well as to control costs. Each year we add additional decorations, but we make sure they compliment the previous years’ themes.
In 2011, my theme was “A Candy Cane Christmas.” This year, the theme is “Election Year Christmas.” The tree is decked out with red, white and blue.
In fact, I’m even hoping to leave the tree up through the inauguration (it’ll be a “Barak Bush” with flags and ribbons), so I’m hoping Mother Nature is kind enough to leave us some needles after the New Year.
Since the tree is enjoyed by the whole neighborhood, I get no greater pleasure than bringing a big slice of holiday cheer to the community around us.
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