- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 11, 2005


It’s been called a “Charlie Brown tree” because the tiny Douglas fir is almost as wide as it is tall.

But, for residents on Tunlaw Road in Northwest, the 1-foot-high fir, which stands along a sidewalk between two apartment complexes, has over the years become a neighborhood Christmas tree.

Most residents don’t know where the tree came from or who begins to put decorations on it each year.

But every year, some neighbors stop by the tree in the 2600 block of Tunlaw Road and add holiday ornaments. Last year, someone set the “Three Wise Men” near its narrow trunk.

“No one bothers it,” said Marise Ponder, a nearby resident who sees the tree when she walks past it a couple times each week. “It’s lovely. It’s really nice.”

The tree was planted by Kathy Portus, a dental assistant who lives in the apartments formerly known as Camp Tunlaw.

Miss Portus, 56, who moved to the District from Oregon when she was a teenager, got the tree about six years ago at an Arbor Day celebration in Oregon.

“It’s become my pet tree,” Miss Portus said. “It was given to me. It was a tabletop centerpiece.”

She said the Douglas fir has not grown much because it doesn’t get much sun. She also said she never asked the apartments’ owner for permission to plant the tiny fir tree.

As Christmas nears, Miss Portus puts the first ornaments on and under the tree. Then, others add to her decorations.

This year, the tiny tree is decorated with silver-colored strings of beads, multicolored tinsel bulbs, and small red and blue gift-wrapped boxes.

At the foot of the tree stands a black Santa Claus, two white reindeer, two angels, a miniature elephant and two teddy bears.

The reindeer “are from my family. Those reindeer are 50 years old,” Miss Portus said.

— Arlo Wagner

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