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EDDYVILLE, Iowa – It’s right there in the ditch on the north side of Merino Avenue, a little bit north of Eddyville – an evergreen tree wrapped in red, gold and silver garland. Under it people from the Eddyville area have been dropping off or picking up Christmas presents for the last six years or so.
“We don’t know who drops it off and we don’t know who picks it up.” says Bevy Lehman. Bevy and friend Fran Katko met me alongside the road by the tree to let me know about this fairly new tradition. They work with the Eddyville Park and Rec to decorate the tree.
“It has beautiful presents” says Fran, adding “you can tell it’s definitely a decorated Christmas ugly ditch tree.”
Bikes, dolls, toy trucks, clothing and anything else people want to give has shown up under the tree. While I was down by the tree, in the ditch shooting video, a man stopped and asked about the tree he has driven past for years. When he found out he handed Fran some money she will use to buy a toy or two to put under the tree.
Fran says she’s learned over the years small town people love to help but will usually wait to be asked. And she does a lot of asking. The tree has grown since they started decorating it, tall enough the women can’t reach the top to place a star there. Fran and Bevy discussed who they know with a boom truck. If you’re in Eddyville and you have a boom truck expect a call.
Both women are proud to be from Eddyville and they also help organize the annual tree lighting in Eddyville. That event will be December 3 in the MiniPark in Eddyville.
Digital Originals has visited other small towns to report on their traditions. Oskaloosa paints their downtown with lights and just outside Hanlontown, in Worth County, a single tree gets blanketed with lights.