The main organizer of the Soroptimist’s Idyllwild Christmas Tree Lighting, Phyllis Mueller, announced her retirement last week in a letter to the whole community.

“I don’t think I have ever done anything in my life that was so outwardly greatly appreciated by so many,” she wrote. “So thank you, I appreciate that so much.”

As founder, owner and operator of several companies, Mueller admits to a strong drive to manage and “boss” her activities. But the tree lighting event is in Idypark, which is a private park, now owned by local benefactor David Butterfield and his wife Loie.

Both Butterfield and Mueller are strong, independent visionaries, consequently, Mueller said, “In this sixth year, I experienced that I am not a happy person unless I’m the boss. And Mr. Butterfield is the same way.”

Mueller decided to step away from her role as head of tree lighting and admitted, “I can tell you that I would not be happy going forward with a boss no matter who it was. So that’s why I am resigning.”

In an email, Butterfield wrote, “We are very supportive of the tree lighting and look forward to working with the Soroptimists on this year’s ceremony.” Idyllwild’s Soroptimists will discuss the matter at the Thursday, April 26, board meeting.

During her reign, she helped protect the Sequoias on the property and substantially augmented the number of lights decorating the tree.

The ceremony is traditionally held the Saturday following Thanksgiving.


  1. Gee. whopi dogone do Poor Ms. Mueller, she can’t be the boss of a little community Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Sounds like a spoiled five year old. ” I’m going out and eat worms”. I’ll show them I’m gonna pick up my jacks and go home. Seriously people let’s grow up and quit getting butthurt.