What’s that soft rosy glow in McMichael Park? Why it’s the Love Lights tree, shining for loved ones, near and far. Friends of McMichael’s Alexis Franklin sheds more light on this 18-year-old East Falls tradition.
Love makes the world go ’round but it also helps keep McMichael Park beautiful. Since 1999, Friends of McMichael have been lighting up a tree in the park every Valentine’s Day, as a special tribute to love in East Falls. Because there’s THAT much heart here, y’all!
Even better: for every $5 donation, Friends of McMichael will broadcast your message of love on local social media — and of course, East Falls Local will be printing these up in February’s edition.
We did these last year — they’re so much fun! Folks get really creative with the “classified ad” format, and also this year we’ll feature them online as well so Love Lights can include images, if you wish.
Bonus points for making Alexis Franklin laugh! No worries, the Friends’ president’s an easy audience, here. She recently wrote us about some of her favorite Love Lights over the years:
Lots of Lovelights with funny nicknames…Bubby, Hoochi, Snooze, Big Mike, Little Mike. A guinea pig named “Mystique” and a fish called “Rocky.” Four legged friends with sound effects from another 4 legger. Surprises… some Lovelights announce a recent wedding or a new baby. Lovelights is a way of discovering Happy News…. Who would have guessed it?!
Some Love Lights have “shined in” from as far as Arizona, but most messages are super local and quite personal. At first the tree was lit for Valentine’s Day only, but now the Friends have extended that to a full week.
Also — while obviously there’s a deadline for printed Love Lights (1/25), the Friends accepts Love Lights donations up to & throughout Valentine’s week (we’ll even update your message online).
So is it always the same tree? Nope, Alexis told us — but seems they’ve always been selective about which tree was chosen for Love Lights:
The Friends of McMichael started with the “Hilary Langer Tree” an evergreen that was donated from Hilary’s back yard and very close to the electrical box. Over time that tree got too big to light so we moved to a smaller more manageable tree to light. We lite the Rendell tree one year when he became Governor after being Mayor. Currently we light the Volunteer Tree, the black Tupelo, which celebrates the anniversaries of the Friends of McMichael and East Falls Tree Tenders.
Last year, we were “delighted” to join Alexis with her husband John, Brian & Christina Kistler, and Marilynn Shaffer stringing lights up in arctic conditions, brrrr… Alexis told us the Friends would love to hold a dance or party in the park when they light the tree, but February in Philly is no place to be planning outdoor activities:
In the beginning the weather was much milder and we had singing, music and dancing in McMichael Park. Now weather is just too intense. However, the weather does not stop people from visiting the tree during the Valentines week. Some drive by…some stop in. Some people buy multiple lights. Others buy just one. One year someone called me and asked which light belong to them. My response,
“Anyone that you want…pick one.”
Love Lights: every twinkle supports our local landmark!
Celebrate L-O-V-E this Valentines Day with a $5 Love Light for McMichael Park. All proceeds go directly to care & maintenance of this special green space for everyone.
Make “Love Lights” checks payable to:
Friends of McMichael Park
2101 Market Street, #4002
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(Deadline for submission is 1/25/17)
QUESTIONS? Check in on Friends of McMichael’s Facebook page.
PS: More from 2016…