Mayor to replace stolen tree

The joy of giving will be brought back, once again, to Civic Center Plaza.

The source of joy, a 6-foot-tall Christmas tree that was decorated with the help of 400 San Francisco schoolchildren was stolen on Dec. 9 by an unknown grinch. After a community outpouring and much publicity, Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office announced Thursday that it will replace the tree. The brand-new pine tree is on loan from the Recreation and Park Department and will be erected late this morning.

Wayne Standerwick founded the Children’s Community Tree project five years ago as a way to teach children what he calls “the joy of giving.” Elementary students decorated more than 100 ornaments for the original tree, which debuted on Dec. 6. The tree was dubbed the first-ever public environmentally friendly Christmas tree, in part because of its solar-powered lights.

After a stint outside Civic Center Plaza, the tree was expected to be shared and transferred to a senior center or homeless shelter for the remainder of the holiday season.

“I would like to commend all the children that worked so hard on the original tree. The important lesson here, and all year round, is good deeds always triumph over bad ones,” Mayor Gavin Newsom said in a statement.

Standerwick said he was happy that the Mayor’s Office got involved, as he had been trying raise funds for a new tree before the onset of the holiday weekend.

Twenty-two students from the 26th Street Head Start program in the Mission will be at the ceremony this morning to adorn the tree with 50 new hand-made ornaments to replace those that had been stolen, according to teacher Sarina Escalante. They will decorate the new tree at an 11 a.m. ceremony.

“It was simply the right thing to do, to help them replace what they worked so hard for. These kids and their hard work are the embodiment of holiday spirit,” said Jennifer Petrucione, spokeswoman for the Mayor’s Office.

eeconomides@examiner.com

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