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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Popular Kailua pines cut down

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer

KAILUA — About a dozen trees have been chopped down and left to rot just up the hill on Kalaniana'ole Highway from what has become something of a natural community billboard — a stand of pines decorated for Christmas with ornaments and yellow smiley faces.

Jim and Shannon Wood said they discovered the damage Sunday when they visited the area between Castle Junction and Kapa'a Quarry Road to trim the ground cover where their cats are buried.

The cut trees, including one about 40 feet tall, are high on the hill, out of sight of the casual onlooker or people passing by in automobiles, Shannon Wood said, adding that seven of the trees were ones that she and her husband had planted.

"I don't think that we've seen the last of this," she said. "I think the trees closer to the highway may be next on the hit list."

The slope covered with Norfolk pine trees of different sizes has become a popular spot for declaring undying love, wishing people happy birthday and celebrating the holidays.

The first tree planted there, several years after the steep slope was graded in the 1960s as an erosion control project, stood alone for a long time. The decorating tradition started with that lone tree. But after vandals hacked off its lower branches in the 1980s, people planted more and more of the Norfolk pines, and today a forest of them covers the hillside.

Every holiday season for decades people have decorated the trees with ornaments ranging from traditional to coconuts. This year yellow happy faces stand out among the colorful hues that sparkle in the sunlight, drawing the attention of motorists.

Jim Wood called it an expression of the softer side of humanity and said it was comforting to think of people decorating trees and declaring their love.

But the damage he saw Sunday revealed another side of humanity, he said. The trees were hacked with what appeared to be an ax, he said. They were cut part way through, then pushed over, breaking the trunk, and left to die, Jim Wood said.

"It was clearly the act of somebody who was angry and hostile," he said, adding that the damage appeared to have taken place about a week ago, judging from the condition of the foliage.

Jim Wood said he reported the crime, but police said no report of it was logged in.

Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com or 234-5266.