A large bright red bow hangs from a tree trunk, offering a bit of Christmas cheer to passersby at the corner of 24th Place and Nash Street.
Attached to the next tree at the same height is another wide ruby bow.
Then another and another, all the way down the otherwise nondescript block in the North Side neighborhood of Franklin Heights.
Each one of the 26 trees on both sides of the 3800 block of North 24th Place were decorated with red bows and wrapped with silver foil and gold ribbon by Nada Gaines, a 65-year-old retired school teacher, and a few of her neighbors.
“We do it because it’s festive, for the neighborhood,” she said standing outside her home. “It makes us feel good.”
The decorated trees are the result of an ongoing effort to create a close-knit neighborhood, she added. Gaines and her neighbors also decorate the street for other holidays such as July 4th and hold regular block parties in which neighbors chip in for hot dogs and treats for the children.
“It brings us together,” said Gaines, who has lived on the block for more than 20 years.
Gaines decorated the trees with another neighbor on a recent cool Saturday afternoon after collecting donations from several neighbors and buying the material from a nearby dollar store.
“Our finger tips were cold and our toes were cold,” she said looking down at her painted fingernails. “So we had to leave the last three for the next day.”
The tree decorating means “togetherness,” said Todd Smith, who has lived on the block for about 40 years. “It gets you in the Christmas spirit.”
As he hopped into his car, Smith said the tree decorations also deter troublemakers and drug dealers.
Kevin Boston credits the tree decoration and other neighborhood efforts with creating an oasis from the drug dealing that consumes adjacent blocks.
“We call this the safe block. Anywhere else around here is a war zone,” said the 29-year-old, who lives with his grandmother on the block, as he walked down the street.
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