World Tree returns to Jasper for festive season

·2 min read

A symbol of magic and happiness, the World Tree has been set up in Jasper for the third year running in Robson Park.

"This is an ideal location within Jasper's residential area, nestled in a green space bordering our schools, the library and the Jasper Art Gallery," said Marcia DeWandel, one of the volunteers behind the tree, in an email.

"It creates a festive community hub during the cool, dark winter season."

This year’s tree was harvested in a valley close to town, as part of the area's FireSmart program.

It was set up on Nov. 30 by municipal staff, with help from the volunteer trio of DeWandel, Traudi Golla and Penny Bayfield.

DeWandel said there has been a great deal of support from community organizations.

The Municipality of Jasper gave approval for the initiative in October, 2018.

Other community groups that have helped the World Tree be a shining light include Community Outreach Services, the Jasper Volunteer Fire Brigade, the Jasper Municipal Library, Jasper Artists Guild, the Dutch Guy, SAW Construction, Friends of Jasper and Parks Canada

Although the World Tree is not a fundraiser, DeWandel pointed out that in 2018 and 2019, Santas Anonymous encouraged donations through the sale of tree decorations and hot chocolate at the site.

Adaptation to the reality of COVID means events have to happen in different ways.

"Like the rest of the world, the pandemic has prompted us to think outside the box," DeWandel said. "The World Tree is needed this year, and its light and energy will remain in Robson Park this season."

While there won't be a formal lighting event, the tree will be lit on Dec. 4.

Volunteers are encouraging festivities and giving in a slightly different way this year.

"Visit the World Tree with your cohort and decorate," DeWandel said. "The more love the tree receives, the brighter it shines. Students from all the schools are still encouraged to make decorations and place them on the tree."

DeWandel also encouraged folks to donate to Santas Anonymous by purchasing raffle tickets for the "amazing gingerbread house" or visiting the mitten donation line at TGP.

"Support your community by shopping locally," she said.

DeWandel hopes the World Tree becomes a tradition in Jasper, with coordination done by a formal group.

For 2020, she said, "The World Tree will continue to bring happiness and joy this holiday season. It represents a sense of normalcy during a time of uncertainty.

“The tree is community, it is fun, it is magic and it is hope."

Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh