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A uniquely Arizona tradition: 35-foot tumbleweed tree ready for the annual lighting

Christmas tree lightings are happening all over the Valley, but one tree is unlike all others.

CHANDLER, Ariz. — Christmas tree lightings are happening all over the Valley – but one tree is unlike all others – and is so uniquely Arizona.

While taking a stroll in downtown Chandler, you can see crews putting the finishing touches on a 35-foot-tall Christmas tree ahead of Dec. 4 tree lighting event.

The large white tree is covered in 1,200 LED lights but if you take a closer look there is something unique about this Christmas tree.

“Right behind me, as you can see, we have the Tumbleweed Tree,” said Hermelinda Llamas, special events coordinator for the City of Chandler.

The tree is made of tumbleweeds – the rolling wanderers of the desert.

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“Every October our Parks Division guys go out there and look for brand new tumbleweeds,” said Llamas.

It takes anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 tumbleweeds to create the tree.

Llamas said it typically takes four weeks to collect and shape it to the chicken wire mold.

“They tug and push and squish to make fit what we need it to look like,” said Llamas.

The tree is then painted white, coated with a flame retardant.

“Then they put glitter on it and then hang the lights to give it a nice little flair,” said Llamas.

It’s a true desert Christmas tradition - bringing the community together since 1957.

“It’s about the spirit,” said Llamas. “It’s definitely something people like to get in front of and take a picture and keep those memories alive.”

The annual Tumbleweed Christmas Tree Lighting and Parade of Lights will happen Saturday at 4:30 pm.

It’s free and the tree will stay up until Jan. 2.

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