A New South Wales coastal town’s Christmas tree, which went viral on social media for being deemed embarrassing and ugly, and stirred up controversy within the local community, has been replaced by a smaller, artificial option.
- Port Macquarie’s Norfolk Pine Christmas tree has been abandoned for a smaller, artificial one after a community backlash
- The local council has blamed poor weather for the “very sad tree”
- The mayor has found humor in the situation
The Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, on the NSW Mid North Coast, unveiled its Christmas light installation on a Norfolk pine in the town’s CBD on Friday night.
Local Mayor Peta Pinson has admitted when she flicked the switch of the light display, it wasn’t what she was expecting.
“When we turned the lights on, there was an ‘Oh my’ moment … and I joined in that moment,” Ms Pinson said.
“It was kind of, 🇧🇷Ooh, that wasn’t what I was expecting’.”
Some of the inflatable baubles on the pine tree had deflated following recent weather events, and many of the lights had fallen or not turned on.
Commentary on social media described the tree as “absolutely embarrassing” and “the most memorable tree ever”.
Town Beach Buffet manager Keshav Bora was at the lighting of the tree ceremony.
“It looked … like the cat was on the tree I guess, and smashed up the lights,” Mr Bora said.
“We had nothing last year, and at least we’ve got something. Something’s better than nothing I guess.”
Another social media comment read” “We even might end up in the Guinness World Records for the ugliest tree but the best place to live”.
Some in the community loved the natural tree, describing it as “quirky”.
Council says it has ‘no regrets’
Ms Pinson said she wasn’t ready for the “backlash” the following day, but there was a silver lining.
“Here we are days later and it’s gone viral,” she said.
“Throughout the world, people are talking about Port Macquarie … so I think it’s done us a great service.”
The infamous tree has now had its decorations pulled down and has been replaced by the council’s traditional much smaller, artificial Christmas tree.
Ms Pinson said she had “no regrets at all” about the decision to decorate the 43-metre Norfolk pine.
“The tallest tree in the world that’s attempted to be decorated is only 3 meters higher, so we certainly took on a very bodacious project,” she said.
Poor weather including hail has been blamed for the festive fail.
“It snapped some guide ropes that held the lights, the flex in the tree also wasn’t helpful with the high winds, but I think that we delivered something that was different but, more importantly, the wit of the community came out,” Ms Pinson said.
“We know everyone appreciates a good laugh,” a Port Macquarie-Hastings Council spokesperson said in a Facebook post.
“Our poor tree does look like it was decorated by Santa after he’s whizzed around the world and had too many eggnogs,” they said.
The council’s traditional artificial Christmas tree was brought back out and decorated by council staff on Wednesday.
“Sucking back in every bit of self-respect they can and getting on with the job,” Ms Pinson said.
“We’ve also got to bring our Norfolk Pine back to her former dignity, so within the next couple of days things will be perfect and proper and just the way people want them to be.”
Ms Pinson said councils, and in general local government, could sometimes be “a soft target” for social media criticism.
“We do get things wrong, but it’s more important that we make them right when we fail and that’s a human thing,” she said.