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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, December 22, 2006

Vandal messing with Kailua yule tradition

By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Staff Writer

Two of the Norfolk pines were cut off near the base, with the trees' midsections lying on the ground and the tops gone. Two stumps with lower branches remain, still decorated with Christmas ornaments and garlands.

DEBORAH BOOKER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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A Christmas grinch has apparently had his way with a beloved tradition a set of decorated Norfolk pines lining Kalaniana'ole Highway just outside Kailua by chopping at least two of the trees in half.

For years Kailua residents and Windward commuters have been greeted during the holiday season with the decorated trees. Who vandalized the trees and why remains as much a mystery as who decorates the trees in the first place.

Paula Ress, president of the Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle, said she noticed that the trees had been vandalized at the beginning of the week.

She said many residents have expressed outrage.

"These trees have grown over the years enough to be a Kailua tradition," Ress said. "I am surprised at how many people have come to me and were really ticked off about it. These trees are something people care about."

Every year, close to the holiday season, the trees become decked in garland and ornaments. Ress said whoever decorates the trees, residents or a community group, has always remained anonymous.

"Everyone really likes them and looks forward to seeing them," Ress said.

She said she was shocked to find that two of the trees had been cut off near the base, with the trees' midsections lying on the ground and the tops gone. Two stumps with lower branches remain, still decorated.

"It looked like someone was getting a Christmas tree this way," she said.

This is not the first time that the set of pines has been vandalized during Christmas time.

In 2002, about a dozen decorated trees were chopped and left to rot, including one about 40 feet tall. The trees were cut partway through with an ax and then pushed over.

Most people are unaware of the origin of the trees.

The first tree was planted along the slope between Castle Junction and Kapa'a Quarry Road in the 1960s as an erosion-control project. The decorating began with that single tree. But after vandals chopped it down in the 1980s, people began planting more and more trees.

The spot has become popular for birthday wishes and messages of love as well as holiday decorations.

Katherine Bryant-Hunter, chairwoman of the Kailua Neighborhood Board, said she noticed that the trees had been cut the other day as she was driving up the road.

"It's just half a tree and the decorations (were) still on the bottom," she said. "I can't imagine what would motivate someone to do that," she said.

Reach Loren Moreno at lmoreno@honoluluadvertiser.com.