New star tops ‘SMILE Christmas Tree’ on Oaks Bottom Bluff – Pamplin Media Group

December 25, 2021 by No Comments

It’s an annual tradition in Inner Southeast Portland, and it just wouldn’t seem like Christmas without it….

Along S.E. 13th Avenue, overlooking Oaks Bottom, a crew of families and neighborhood volunteers once again put to use their 30 years of experience to decorate the “SMILE Christmas Tree”, named after the neighborhood association for Sellwood and Westmoreland, which originated and helps finance the lighting of the tall fir tree each year.

Securely perched inside the top of the towering tree, on the sunny Saturday morning of November 20, was Reed Schrosk of “Treecology Tree Service” who secured each of the 30 strands of LED lights handed off to him by Matt Hainley from the basket of a massive personnel lift, maneuvered by Don Bolton.

“After all these years, we have a new shining star to top the tree,” grinned Matt Hainley. “This one is much lighter, and was made of aluminum welded in the Heiberg Garbage & Recycling shop by Rich Heiberg, with the help John Fyre, who affixed the lights and helped with the fabrication.

“And big thanks to Pape Rents for helping mitigate the biggest cost of this effort: The equipment rental,” Hainley remarked to THE BEE, after all 850 of the recently updated LED lights had been tested and strung up.

“Again, we’re again grateful to the property owners on which the tree stands, Emily and Isaac Edwards! Their son, Maverick Edwards, will ‘throw the switch’ to light the tree for the first time of the season, on Monday evening, November 29.

“And, thanks to the donations of our community in the previous two years, to buy the new LED lamps. All of the power comes from just one 15 amp circuit, generously donated by the tree’s ‘next door neighbor’ Dr. Daniel Beeson, D.C.,” said Hainley.

Heading the tree-lighting effort is an annual tradition of the Heiberg and Hainley families, both of which are deeply involved with SMILE. “We started this in 1989, when Bruce and I had kids about the age of both our grandkids. And seeing them help doing the lights, eating donuts, and having a good time is what it’s all about,” Hainley observed.

Then, a little before 6:30 p.m. on November 29, some 100 neighbors gathered to greet one another and sing carols before “SMILE’s Christmas Tree” was lit for the first time this season, to the delight of all.

This year, because of the pandemic, SMILE isn’t able to provide all the money that typically pays for this tree-trimming project. Although the Beeson, Heiberg, and Hainley families are continuing their generous support, they ask the neighbors to help cover the $3,000 deficit this year, in the cost of hanging and maintaining the lights. 

If you’d like to donate to this very prominent Inner Southeast tradition, you can do so online and securely, via GoFundMe –

And share in the tree-lighting celebration in this brief BEE video –

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