CHANDLER — This city may be the only one in the nation facing a shortage of materials required for building a Christmas tree. Every year since 1957, Chandler has erected a Christmas tree composed entirely of tumbleweeds, chicken wire and paint. Starting in mid-November, the wire is shaped into a 30-foot cone, and more than a thousand dried tumbleweeds are inserted into the holes.
Then crews cover the tree with white paint, 20 gallons of fire retardant and 65 pounds of glitter. As the final touch, they add about 1,200 lights.
But tumbleweeds are getting harder to come by, due to housing developments and city expansion. Growth has covered many of the fields that were once prime tumbleweed acreage and the owners of non-agricultural property can be fined if they don’t keep their land weed-free.
Fortunately, the city owns some undeveloped property where the thistles can mature into the proper size, so the tumbleweed Christmas tree is safe for now.