Controversial Camelback Mountain Christmas Tree Returns
December 13, 2017 at 5:04 am
"Camelback Santa" hands out candy canes near the Camelback Mountain Christmas tree in Phoenix. | Courtesy of Ray Stern, Phoenix New Times
Some call it a holiday tradition. Others say it befouls a city landmark. Yes, that's right: A Christmas tree is back atop Camelback Mountain in Phoenix.
Last year, we told you about the controversy that erupted after hikers hauled a tree to the 2,704-foot summit of Camelback. Shortly thereafter, someone chopped off the top of the tree, sparking a fight between the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department, which said it wouldn't allow Christmas trees to be put there, and a group led by the mysterious "Camelback Santa," who urged the city to reconsider.
Eventually, the city permitted a single, undecorated tree to be placed atop Camelback during the holiday season. But that apparently was a one-time permission, and for Camelback Santa and his supporters, a permanent solution has proved elusive, as Ray Stern of the Phoenix New Times reported last week.
The parks department confirmed to Stern that the city's policy of not allowing a Christmas tree remains in effect. But the tree returned to the mountain this year, as Stern found when he climbed Camelback earlier this month. In a combative Facebook Live video, Stern, Camelback Santa and other Camelback climbers argue about the tree. (The language in the video is not safe for most workplaces. Or for children.)
As we did last year, we're going to reserve judgment on the Camelback Mountain Christmas tree — which, as of this writing, is still atop the peak. But what do you think about this practice? Let us know in the comments.