CAPTION: The World Tree made its grand debut on Dec. 8 during a celebration in Robson Park. The tree is now a permanent fixture on the landscape after six years of efforts behind the scenes by the World Tree Committee. | Scott Hayes / Jasper FitzhughScott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

There was an overwhelming warmth and joy on the faces and in the hearts of the 100 or so Jasperites who gathered for the World Tree lighting on Dec. 8.

Among the throng were Traudi Golla, Marci DeWandel and Penny Bayfield, who had many other reasons to celebrate and breathe satisfied sighs of relief.

The three made up the World Tree Committee, which for six years planned and fundraised thousands of dollars. They also worked untold volunteer hours to create the permanent centrepiece for Robson Park.

“That for us was, I think, a bit of a final ‘Wow, we’ve done it’,” DeWandel said.

The tree is now a place that people of all ages and cultures can go to for some bright cheer at the darkest time of year, and throughout the rest of the year as well. It’s not a Christmas tree; it’s a tree for all people and for all time.

“A gathering space for people of all cultures and creeds,” as DeWandel put it.

The World Tree distinguishes itself from other festive flora for its all-encompassing nature.

“This time of year, there are so many different traditions for different people. We wanted to be inclusive of all those people and just really include as much as the community as possible. That was the idea behind the World Tree,” Bayfield said.

“Everyone celebrates something around this of the longest night, and everyone has something to celebrate around this time. We wanted everyone to have a place to go,” Golla said.

It seemed that the community overall was fully in step with the committee’s end goal. The three offered their gratitude for the overwhelming support from the Municipality of Jasper, the schools, the fire department, the Jasper Rotary Club, private donors and all others.

Part of that support went to establishing the picnic table and firepits in Robson Park, all now as much permanent as the tree itself.

There is still room for the project to be built on, DeWandel said.

“This is just step one. That will come.” 

The blue spruce tree was carefully chosen for its hardiness as well as its physical characteristics, offering branches that people can still reach into to place decorations. The World Tree can now be found beautifully bedecked with ornaments offered by the community at the north end of Robson Park, a central location as deliberate as the tree variety. Not only is it close to seniors’ residences and school, but it is also near the Jasper Municipal Library itself.

“It is the living room of our community. You put up your tree in the living room,” Golla said.

It was planted in October to help it take root. The committee members are hoping that the weather over the next months will offer the right conditions for the tree to survive and grow as Jasper itself continues to grow.

By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Dec 21, 2023 at 12:00

This item reprinted with permission from    The Fitzhugh    Jasper, Alberta

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