Updated at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 24, 2016
The Left-Leaning Tree of OB is no more. Right minds prevailed this week to protect beachgoers. Gretchen Newsom, Ocean Beach Town Council president, said the council brought out a crane to have the tree “adjusted” and avert any possibility of it falling over.
On Friday, Newsom said the OB tree was “leaning (even) further to the left after the last wind storm.” Six days earlier, Channel 10 News highlighted danger fears, saying the town council would do an inspection the next morning.
Now the tree has a slight bend, but five ropes tied to two large stakes secure the upper part of the tree, fenced as usual.
Viewed from Newport Avenue, the Ocean Beach Christmas tree leans frightfully to the left.
Viewed from social media, the donated 50-foot pine is beloved by Obecians — even if its southwestern tilt is a mystery.
“The lean is confounding to us all,” said Nate Bazydlo, vice president of the Ocean Beach Town Council. “There was nothing to suggest the lean would occur.”
Claudia Peters Jack, involved in the tree project for nearly a quarter-century, said the bend is natural.
“It was on Worden Street growing next to another tree through the same trunk,” she said in a Facebook post. “The tree [was] very healthy when it was cut.”
Bazydlo said it was clear to workers that the conifer had its own agenda.
“It would not be manipulated as those in the past to adjust its positioning,” he said, quoting one installer as saying: “Perhaps this tree is here to carry a message.”
Asked if the tree needed to be righted, dozens of Facebook commenters sent their own message.
“Let it Be, Let it Be… Let it Be, Let it Be,” said Dana DaLuz with emojis of yule trees, a snowman and musical notes.
“Pretty sure it’s not able to be straightened…. Conversion therapy doesn’t work,” said Gina Faye Smith.
Alyssa Mo asked: “Why would they fix it if it’s not broken? Most Obecians lean to the left, so the awesome tree fits perfectly!”
Labeled “funky,” “quirky” and the “leaning tower of OBIZZA” by others, the tree is like OB: “perfectly imperfect,” said Tara Lynn Booze.
“We’ve always been a little sideways here in Ocean Beach,” she said. “It seems fitting that our tree doesn’t attempt to live up to the usual elements of pretension we see in other parts of San Diego. Keep it weird, keep it tilted :)”
Jennifer Stafinbil said: “Just as laid back as our little town! Love it, leave it!!!”
In fact, if OB ever had a perfect Christmas tree, said Laura Anne Maturo, “we’d have to rename our little town to La Jolla. Imperfection is what makes OB so absolutely perfect.” (Past trees have been nontraditional as well. In 2013, the San Diego Reader said: “If it looks perfect, people complain it’s not O.B. enough.”)
Some couldn’t resist prescribing a fix:
Said Michael Spiker: “Does the OB town tree have erectile dysfunction? Dissolve some Viagra in a gallon of water and set it in the base.”
Said Jonathan Evans: “I just spread some little blue pills around the base, but if it lasts standing up straight for more than 4 hours we’d need to call an arborist.”
Installed the morning of Nov. 29, the tree has lights and decorations bought by the Ocean Beach Town Council — installed by council board members and volunteers the next day.
“But the really priceless moment is Thursday morning when each class from Ocean Beach Elementary School marches down Newport Avenue to hang their hand-made decorations on the tree,” Bazydlo said. “And Santa makes a special trip from his workshop in the North Pole to get some much needed OB sun and beach time while giving out a candy cane and taking a photo in his sleigh with each student.”
Bazydlo says the tree came from a Point Loma Heights resident who was planning to cut it down.
“Instead of sending it to the chipper, this resident so kindly asked us to give his tree a beachfront home to become the beloved iconic OB Christmas tree for the holidays,” he said.
Bazydlo called the installation a collaborative effort with local professionals who either donate their time or do it at cost — “a skilled group of tree trimmers, crane operator, truck driver, project coordinator, police escort, the OB Town Council and, most importantly, the Queen Bee of OB – Claudia [Peters Jack].”
The tree was growing straight up when chosen and cut down, he said, adding via email: “The cause of the lean is inexplicable.”
Anyone ask for it to be straightened?
“There have been three total people who have asked for it to be replaced!” Bazydlo said Wednesday. “There have been hundreds who have adopted it into their hearts as the perfect OB Tree.”
Support on two Ocean Beach Facebook groups wasn’t unanimous, however.
“Fix it,” demanded Susan Sharpe. “Why should OB just settle for that? It looks ridiculous and besides it could be dangerous as it appears that it could easily be toppled!”
Lacy Younger said: “Make it straight! What is it with our OB trees every year? Straggly, sparse, feeble, falling over. Charlie Brown’s got nothin’ on us! We don’t need extravagant or perfect. But for once it would be nice to have one with some symmetry that doesn’t look poorly.”
Offering sarcastic rebuke was Kevin Hastings: “I demand a perfect tree. With 24k gold tinsel and real candles” — to which Sue Dumas replied (with LOL): “Well then make reservations at the Hotel Del.”
Could the tree topple in a wind?
Bazydlo says the tree is secured in the holding mechanism for its trunk, reinforced with support lines.
“Further support is being conducted this week to ensure its stability,” he said.
Bazydlo recalls “the most beautiful comment” by a passer-by: “Perhaps the tree is letting us remember that its beauty can be seen with the right perspective, just like the beauty of OB, just like the beauty of the holidays and just like the beauty of your life. It’s all perspective.”
Former caterer Claudia Jack, who heads the town’s holiday project, is an OB resident since 1957 with “Ocean Beach” and “15 02” tattooed on her left arm (15th letter being O and second being B).
Jack recalled what a man said to her during its set-up: “I don’t like the tree.”
She went on: “I thought he was kidding, so I said: Really? He said: ’No, I don’t like it.’
“I told him to move back to La Mesa.”
The leaning (on purpose, they swear!) Ocean Beach Christmas tree. I love this town! pic.twitter.com/Xu6D4Yvfcn
— Allie (@allie_bythesea) December 4, 2016
A photo posted by Tony Corsini (@tony_corsini) on
A photo posted by Irene Morton (@ireneruns) on