Idyllwild’s Christmas Tree still in intensive care

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The Idyllwild Christmas Tree is trying to recover from the drought and a fungus attack. Phyllis Mueller and John Huddleston are managing the tree’s care.
Photo by JP Crumrine

The Idyllwild Christmas Tree is still struggling to survive. The drought has made the tree vulnerable to a fungus.

But the Christmas Tree has many supporters and admirers in town. Phyllis Mueller, John Huddleston, arborist, and Mayor Max are doing all they can to restore the tree’s health.

“The [Christmas] Tree looks a little worse this year,” Mueller concurred. At the first signs of spring, she thought the tree would be doing better with the winter precipitation. However, as the days grew longer and warmer, it appears weaker.

Two other trees in Jo’An’s Restaurant & Bar courtyard have been victims of the same fungus, Mueller said, but being smaller, they probably improved faster because they need less water.

“This fungus is tough to knock out. There is no guarantee,” she said. “We’re using state-of-the-art sprays.”

And Mueller, with the help of the Idyllwild Volunteer Fire Company, provides hundreds of gallons of water to the tree.

“I want the Christmas Tree and others to live,” Mueller said with extreme passion. “We’re doing everything we can.”

But if the tree’s health continues to fail, Mueller is prepared. She has an idea for a Christmas Tree that will maintain the grandeur of the lighting event and homage to the holiday season.

She describes a 100-foot poll with a large circle around its base. Dozens of light strings could rise from the base to the top. Lit up at night, Idyllwild would still have the grandeur of its Christmas Tree shining brightly in the winter air.

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