November 28, 2007 - 2:26PM
Governor Napolitano: It’s a 'holiday tree'
What do you call the large green thing in the lobby of
the state Capitol tower decorated with lights, balls
Well, if you’re the governor, you don’t call it a
Christmas tree. Instead, Janet Napolitano has dubbed
it the “holiday tree.”
The governor formally lit the decoration this week in
a ceremony. She also used the opportunity to promote
“Hope for the Holidays,” a special program to provide
gifts to the children of parents who are incarcerated.
So what “holiday” does Napolitano believe the tree
“I think we’re celebrating a number of holidays,” the
governor responded Wednesday when queried about the
Pressed further, Napolitano acknowledged that only one
religion — Christianity — erects a tree as a holiday
“You can call it whatever you want,” she said.
The “holiday tree” name met with bemusement from
Secretary of State Jan Brewer, who, like Napolitano,
has her office in the Capitol tower.
“It’s a Christmas tree,” she said while passing by the
display on her way into the building. “Who are you
trying to kid?”
And Brewer said if she eventually becomes governor —
and has the annual ceremonial duty of lighting the
tree — that’s exactly what she will call it.
This isn’t the first time Napolitano has gotten into
an issue of what might be called political correctness
In 2001, the Attorney General’s Office, which she
headed, put out a memo listing “acceptable seasonal
decorations” in common areas. These included
snowflakes, icicles, garland, poinsettia plants and
But the policy prohibited a tree to put the presents
under. In fact, Santa himself was declared persona non
Napolitano said at the time the memo was crafted by a
staffer, without her input, and appeared to be
But she defended the list and said there was a
legitimate reason for the decision: Anyone who wants
to file a discrimination complaint has to come to that
office. She said it sends the wrong message for these
people to have to face a state office where a
religion’s symbols are displayed.
And Napolitano, already running for governor at the
time, promised that the lobby of the Capitol tower
would not be stripped of any seasonal decorations
should she be elected.
“It’s going to be a Christmas cactus,” she quipped,
something “appropriate” for the Southwest.
Montini's Columns & Blog
Napolitano's "holiday" tree
Gov. Janet Napolitano, like so many politicians before
her, has stepped back into the mine field of
Christmas-time political correctness and...BOOM!
Napolitano, who certainly got better grades than I did
in school, is foolishly calling the decorated
Christmas tree in the lobby of the state Capitol a
"holiday tree,” as if she WANTS to get blasted for
being too politically correct.
It's a Christmas tree. Call it that. No one will take
Really, would she call a menorh a "holiday
"I think we’re celebrating a number of holidays,” the
governor supposedly told reporter Howard Fisher of
Capitol Media Services on Wednesday when asked about
the tree. Adding, “You can call it whatever you want."
No. Just call it what it is.
A Christmas tree.
Chandler's pride, joy
Holiday tree made of tumbleweeds honors city's
Dianna M. Náñez
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 29, 2007 12:00 AM
Saturday marks Chandler's 51st annual Tumbleweed Tree
Lighting Ceremony, a Valley holiday custom done in
While thousands attend the tree celebration and an
attendant parade, fewer onlookers might be familiar
with how the 35-foot tumbleweed tree came to be.
Tumbleweed time in Chandler begins annually in
October. A city parks and maintenance crew is charged
with gathering enough tumbleweeds to build the tree.
This year's tumbleweed-hunting party was led by staff
with more than 15 years of combined experience
scouring the few remaining open areas in Chandler for
1,200 perfect prickly specimens. That's the average
number it takes to fulfill a tradition that began in
1957 when Chandler resident Earl Barnum called open
season on the weed.
Barnum eyed a Christmas tree fashioned from pinecones
and chicken wire in the Midwest and envisioned using
tumbleweeds to build Chand- ler's festive tribute. As
part of the tradition, the city tries to harvest only
tumbleweeds native to Chandler.
In Barnum's day, the tumbleweed was an easy hunt.
Pursuing tumbleweeds became a daunting task as another
invasive species, the developer, encroached upon the
desert plant's habitat.
Tumbleweed trackers are now forced to navigate
abandoned fields where snakes and field rats roam.
William Williams, 50, and Frank Martinez, 48, are
familiar with Barnum's tradition and the tumbleweed
Williams has led the tumbleweed chase for much of his
16 years with the city.
Officially, he is retired from hunting duties. But
Williams still guides first-time hunters to ensure
they are bagging tumbleweeds that would pass Barnum's
Over the years, Williams has faced a rattlesnake,
suffered a few scrapes with unruly and particularly
spiky tumbleweeds and seen the desert scrub slowly
"We're running out of tumbleweeds around Chandler," he
said. "It gets harder every year."
This year's fall hunt took Williams and Martinez's
crew to Chandler's remote Los Arboles Park near
Germann and McQueen roads.
But Williams would tell you the spot is perfect for
"We got a pretty good field here," said Williams, as
he sized up Los Arboles' tumbleweed harvest. "They're
not all ready yet - you got to get them when you can't
see all they way through them too much."
It takes dedication and a little muscle to make a
top-notch Russian thistle hunter, Martinez said.
"I told the new guys. 'We're going out to get
tumbleweeds,' and they looked at me like I'm crazy,"
he said. "When they get out here, they see it's hard
work cutting and loading them."
One wonders whether Barnum would have guessed the
effort it would take to sustain his vision in the face
of the weed's slow extinction.
Chandler parks and grounds supervisor Kris Kircher has
worked for the city for 21 years and recalls Barnum
advising novice tree architects.
"I remember my first few years building it. Earl would
come down. He'd sit in his lawn chair and show us when
we weren't smashing it into the tree right or if we
had the wrong kind of tumbleweeds.
"There is a science to the tree building. You just
can't pick any tumbleweed. It has to be just right,
can't be too green, can't be too big. He took a lot of
pride in the tree."