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Agricultural News

AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN: 24-Foot Christmas Tree Decorated Only with Cotton

Thu, 17 Dec 2020 08:55:28 CST

AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN: 24-Foot Christmas Tree Decorated Only with Cotton Claire Osborn writes in the latest issue of the PCG email about a Cotton Christmas Tree!

It's the Christmas season in Granger, and the town of about 1,500 residents has small decorations posted along street lights and signs. But instead of a holiday tree standing downtown, there is a 24-foot-tall metal structure covered only with cotton grown by area farmers.

Granger resident Mike Anderson, who built it, calls it his "cotton Christmas tree."

It has no lights on it, no tinsel and no ornaments. The tree is covered with stalks of cotton woven through fencing stretched across circular metal tiers.

"I made it as a tribute to local farmers for all they do," said Anderson, a 62-year-old who repairs generators and other machines in nuclear power plants.

It's the fourth year in a row he's built it and the third year its been on West Davilla Street across from the Granger National Bank. Anderson is not a farmer but said he has noticed when the cotton is growing in fields around town it "kind of looks like snow."

Anderson said his cotton Christmas tree is made to look like it is snow-covered. Mayor Trevor Cheatheam said the tree has become "kind of a Granger tradition."

"One of our largest crops in Granger is cotton. The tree is very specific to Granger," Cheatheam said, "and I think the whole community loves it."

Granger, which is on Texas 95 between Bartlett and Taylor in the northeastern part of Williamson County, started in 1882 at the intersection of the Houston and San Antonio branches of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad. It still has some buildings left from the 1800's and many movies have been filmed there, including a remake of "True Grit" in 2012.   

Anderson said all the cotton on his tree was donated by farmers, including David Hajda, from fields within six miles of town. Hajda said he just wanted to help out Anderson with the tree, which Hajda called "extremely unique."

It takes about two days to weave the cotton around the metal structure while it was on its side, said Anderson. He propped the tree on about 5 feet of wood and put a star made of cotton on top if it first, he said. After he finished putting on all the cotton he got help from a local company that pulled the tree upright with a crane, he said.

The entire structure weighs about 500 pounds, including about 75 pounds of cotton, said Anderson. When Christmas is over, he usually burns the cotton off the tree in a public ceremony. "Last year it took 33 seconds to burn," Anderson said. He said burning Christmas trees is a tradition in several European countries, including Holland.

The burning "carries on a tradition from Europe where a lot of our descendants in this area are from," said Hajda. "When you burn the tree, it's supposed to give you good fortune for the rest of the year," he said.

Anderson said that for him the whiteness of the cotton on the tree and the light from the burning "represents the light that Christ brought into the world," said Anderson. "I encourage people to be the light that helps someone out," he said.



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