An ugly Christmas tree gets some love The official Christmas tree in Reading, Pennsylvania is a 50-foot Norway spruce that many residents compared to the spindly tree in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (AP photos)
An ugly Christmas tree gets some love
Lexile

A city's official Christmas tree has brought plenty of grief. Good grief.

The 50-foot spruce has drawn comparisons to the scraggly sapling in "A Charlie Brown Christmas." It has giant bare spots. It's no one's idea of Christmas tree perfection.

That's especially true in Reading, Pennsylvania. The state is one of the nation's largest producers. Some residents and city officials called this city tree an embarrassment. They demanded it be replaced.

Instead, Reading decided to embrace the Charlie Brown theme.

Workers wrapped a blue blanket around its base. Linus would have done the same. Then they adorned it with a single red ball. The city announced a worldwide photo and essay contest. The winners are to receive copies of the book version of the beloved TV special. And the public is invited to give the tree a makeover. Just like the "Peanuts" gang surprised Charlie Brown. The gang turned his puny pine into a trimmed, twinkling beauty.

Turns out Reading's tree wasn't bad at all. It just needed a little love.

"Christmas is so commercialized that we tend to forget what Christmases used to be like," said Mayor Vaughn Spencer. "Sometimes we have to keep things in perspective. And I think that's the lesson here."

As generations of fans know, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" has the lovable loser picking a tree for the Christmas play. He rescues a tiny sapling that's losing its needles. But the other kids laugh at the tree. Then Linus tells the story of Jesus' birth. And the gang has a change of heart.

In Reading, the story doesn't have such a tidy ending.

Several pedestrians insulted the tree as ugly and unworthy as they walked past. The lone red ball was swaying in a stiff breeze.

Emma Vega called it an unwelcome reminder of Reading's troubles. Once a mighty manufacturing hub, the city of 88,000 is among the nation's neediest. Forty percent of its residents live in poverty.

For others, the tree offers up several timely messages. Nothing and no one are perfect. Be grateful for what you have. Make the most of what you've been given.

City Councilman Jeff Waltman said the treer symbolizes Reading itself. It's full of potential and ready for transformation.

"This tree carries its own little spirit," he said. "It has its own little voice now."

Critical thinking challenge: What about the tree troubled residents of Scranton, and why would people in Scranton be more troubled than people in other states?

Assigned 18 times


COMMENTS (10)
  • galvinc-
    12/23/2014 - 09:18 a.m.

    This story is about an ugly Christmas tree in Reading Pennsylvania and some of the people liked it and not others liked it . The tree has one red ornament some of the people are poor they need some love joy and Happiness . I feel bad for the people of Reading Pennsylvania because I wanted to make them happy and not sad it's about giving and receiving and about the spirit of Christmas

  • orahf-
    12/23/2014 - 11:18 a.m.

    The people of Reading are poor people that are trying to make the best of an ugly tree. Some people did not like the ugly tree at first. A lot of people are trying to decorate the Christmas tree together because they all live in Reading.

  • Tiffany0307-yyca
    12/24/2014 - 01:27 p.m.

    Even though that Christmas Tree gets some love, I thin it's pretty disgusting and very ugly. The red ball looks pretty but I just really hate that tree. The problem is that the tree looks sloppy by the branches and it looks like the green leaves and plants are going to fall down. And plus the tree needs some more beautiful and bright ornaments and decorations. That way the people can be more cheerful. I think that there should be a really pretty and glowing star on the top. But maybe that tree also does need some love.

  • ColeF-5
    12/26/2014 - 06:11 p.m.

    People think a bad christmas tree is no good. Pennsylvania thinks otherwise. They had a bad tree and they embraced it. They thought it looked like the tree from Charlie Brown and added various objects to capitalize on that theme "Christmas is so commercialized that we tend to forget what Christmases used to be like," said Mayor Vaughn Spencer. This proves what they are doing to get it right.

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    12/31/2014 - 04:58 p.m.

    REBUTTAL:
    Tiffany, how would you know if the tree is disgusting. You never looked at it in person so you don't have to right to say that the tree is ugly. Also, you should not say "hate" because you can hurt someone's feelings with that word. Trees do not have to be decorated in order for people to have some cheer. You can just decorate it some way and it could spread cheers. It doesn't matter if the tree is ugly or not. You just have to decorate it with anything and it would look pretty.

  • John0724-YYCA
    12/31/2014 - 05:17 p.m.

    REBUTTAL:
    Tiffany, I disagree with you because even though that tree is still ugly it still should get some love because you shouldn't judge the how it looks like because you don't know if that tree was pretty long time ago. What if you turned ugly and everybody hated you would you be happy so I suggest that you should not have a negative attitude about that tree. Also you are calling a Christmas tree ugly not an ordinary tree but a Christmas tree.

  • JackS-4
    1/02/2015 - 07:34 p.m.

    The city tree of Reading in Pennsylvania is turning some heads, and not necessarily in a good way. Reading is one of Pennsylvania's poorest cities, with about 40% living is poverty. A woman named Emma Vega called it "A hurtful reminder of Reading's poverty.The city council begs to differ, by saying that the tree symbolizes that Reading is full of potential and ready for a transformation.

    I think that any tree is good enough to be a christmas tree. I agree with the mayor of the city that Reading is full of potential and can really transform itself.

  • JackS-4
    1/02/2015 - 07:34 p.m.

    The city tree of Reading in Pennsylvania is turning some heads, and not necessarily in a good way. Reading is one of Pennsylvania's poorest cities, with about 40% living is poverty. A woman named Emma Vega called it "A hurtful reminder of Reading's poverty.The city council begs to differ, by saying that the tree symbolizes that Reading is full of potential and ready for a transformation.

    I think that any tree is good enough to be a christmas tree. I agree with the mayor of the city that Reading is full of potential and can really transform itself.

  • Lamira-Abd
    1/06/2015 - 08:37 a.m.

    I think its good that the people liked the tree because they wanted it to be perfect but it didn't have too.If the people looked at it the other way they would of saw how beautiful it was.

  • hailie1237
    1/16/2015 - 01:28 a.m.

    I thought that this article was creative. It's was a good use of a tree instead of replacing it. I would have liked to see the tree in person. I like that the who city revolved te tree around Charlie Brown since they were bringing alive the tradition of the ugly tree. I loved how the people of Pennsylvania kept the tree and made it look beautiful.

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