If ever there was a metaphor for a screwed up city that seems more interested in extorting its residents with parking tickets and speed-trap traffic cameras that trigger $189 fines, it's the Westlake Christmas tree (that's right, we don't call it a holiday tree; gotta problem with that!?), which is not only an artificial tree -- but the damn thing won't even light up.
Westlake Christmas tree is in the dark
And while we're in a full-blown rant, what's the deal with this $880,000 the city is forking out for year one of police monitoring -- including one guy, an ex-L.A. cop, who is going to haul in $75,000 for 75 days of work? They gotta be kidding! That's as idiotic as the angled parking on Queen Anne Avenue, or our five-way intersections, where all signs of intelligent life vanish and we turn dumb and plodding as cows.
All right, back to the stupid tree.
For 23 years now, the Westlake Christmas tree has been Seattle's shiniest ornament, the one true marker that says the grand holiday season is upon us. Thousands of residents have flocked through the years to the lighting ceremony, normally held the Friday after Thanksgiving.
The tree has usually been a Douglas or silver fir, grown somewhere in Washington. This year, though, it's artificial. Fake. Reuseable and sustainable, yes -- but wrong.
Needless to say, Gene Rosso, of family-owned Rosso Gardens in Tukwila, which has furnished Westlake with the towering tree for most of the 23 years, is not pleased.
"To me, this is Washington state," Rosso told SeattlePI.com. "We're the Evergreen state. It should be an evergreen kind of tree. It doesn't feel like Christmas to me when you have a fake tree."
Being a fake tree is one thing -- that could be perhaps forgiven -- but the fact that it won't even light up, and hasn't since the initial lighting ceremony on Nov. 23, is another more damnable issue.
"There terms we're using now is we are experiencing technical difficulties," Carol Hildahl told The Daily Weekly yesterday. Hildahl, a marketing manager for Chicago-based General Growth Properties, owner of Westlake Center, said she's in the dark as to how much longer the artificial tree will remain light-less.
And, if and when the lights do come on they won't flicker for long. Nope, the plan, said Hildahl, is to create an hourly light show. In another words, the lights will be turned on at the top of the hour, between 4 and 10 p.m., and remain illuminated for just a few minutes -- complete with musical accompaniment -- before fading to black.
Think of it as sort of a holiday version of Old Faithful.
Of course, a shorter light show probably means less chance of getting a parking ticket.