By Amanda Morgan Fann, Staff Writer—
Imagine gathering your family and friends around the Christmas tree one last time as it lights up the night; Treetop Hideaways’ fourth annual Christmas Tree Bonfire does just that.
Community members bring their old Christmas trees to make the massive bonfire. The event turns what could be a sad goodbye to the Christmas season into a fun celebration to welcome the new year. Treetop Hideaway describes the bonfire as a “conflagration of past Christmas celebrations and the remnants of the old year turn to ashes.”
The event is very informal and friendly, but its diverse demographic is what really makes it unique. Treetop Hideaways Co-owner Enoch Elwell said guests in the past have been a mix of everyone, ranging from college students, to families, to older couples, to local artists, to business owners.
“It’s great to see a cross-section of people whose only connection is they have a love for adventure and community,” said Elwell.
While there, people can gather around the fire or explore the open treehouses. The event is family friendly and pet friendly, as long as the pet is on a leash. It is also BYOA, bring your own anything: food, drinks, blankets, instruments and especially chairs.
“My wife and I wanted to provide a space for people to connect with nature, to get away, feel like kids again and enjoy life,” said Elwell. “This event is open for people to be themselves, whether that means playing music, dancing or sharing a potluck meal.”
Treetop Hideaways stresses the importance of an eco-friendly environment. To support that ideal, guests can bring their own cup to receive free hot chocolate throughout the event.
The fire cannot happen without community support, so Treetop Hideaways will also be offering a free night’s stay in one of their luxury treehouses for anyone who brings in the most trees. Trees can be dropped off any day or time before the event. Participants are asked to make a Facebook post with the treehouse in the back and the number of trees they brought to be considered.
The event has continued to grow more each year. What started as a simple Facebook post inviting anyone to come burn their old Christmas tree turned into a tradition for many in the Chattanooga community.
Last year the organization received a total of 119 trees. How they burned them was even more interesting: the pile was lit with a flaming model rocket.
“This year’s lighting will be even crazier, but it’s a surprise you will have to be there for” said Elwell. “It may or may not have something to do with balls of fire.”
This year’s free festivity will take place Saturday, Jan. 19 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 576 Chattanooga Valley Rd.