Photo credit: Downtown Silver Spring

Photo credit: Downtown Silver Spring

LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — All Downtown Silver Spring’s Christmas tree needs is a partridge and a pear, and the tale of its creation could be turned into a great rendition of “The 12 Days of Christmas.”

The 30-foot-tall Christmas tree/art installation combo that was unveiled Saturday is made of 89 tube sleds, 58 disk sleds, 18 tennis rackets, 12 helmets, 10 sports balls, seven bats, five xylophones and an assortment of other toys.

It looks, as creator Karl Unnasch puts it, “like a big Dr. Seuss adventure.”

This is the second year that Downtown Silver Spring has partnered with the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County to sponsor the creation of a unique holiday centerpiece as part of the “Re-Imagining the Holidays” program. Last year, one was constructed entirely out of recycled plastic bottles.

Downtown spokeswoman Laurie Yankowski says this year’s tree is extra special because all of the toys and sporting goods used to create the tree will eventually be donated to A Wider Circle, a local nonprofit.

The larger mission of A Wider Circle is to help end poverty, and it goes about that by providing basic everyday items to families who are transitioning out of homeless shelters or simply living without them.

They furnish the homes of more than 1,000 children and adults every month, free of charge. According to director Mark Bergel, the average annual income of a family they serve is around $12,000.

“Including us in this was just a beautiful gesture,” he says. He noted that the toys will help uplift the lives of local children.

As for the tree’s appearance, “Downtown Silver Spring… it’s the heart of the arts and entertainment district,” Yankowski says. “Having a unique and different type of holiday display is very appropriate.”

She’s seen ample feedback about the tree, and most has been positive, but there are some traditionalists out there, she says.

In other words, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Either way, it’s a conversation starter, including on Downtown Silver Spring’s Facebook page.

Unnasch says the internally-lit tree glows just colorfully and brightly as he imagined it would when he submitted his proposal.

But that’s just icing on the cake compared to the fact that the toys he spent months collecting and a week full of 10-12 hour days attaching to the internal framework of the installation will be donated to less fortunate kids.

“It was a labor of love,” he says. And. “this project is definitely something I’d be happy to do again.”


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