Christmas tree replaced with cardboard, NJ has doubts



It looks like an ode to the Heat Miser’s mane —and this Jersey Shore town’s boardwalk Christmas tree is drawing a lot of hot takes.

This new Christmas tree in the Grand Arcade at Asbury Park’s Convention Hall is not the usual freshly cut variety — but a swirling sculpture that will be recycled after the 2021 holiday season comes to a close.

Locals are divided by the 17-foot cardboard concoction dubbed “The Giving Tree,” which was made by Jersey artists Bradley Hoffer and Mike Lavallee, who goes by the name Porkchop.

“It looks like an Amazon package,” Hoboken resident Anthony Solimando told the Associated Press.

That’s an appropriate sentiment for local Amy Mackey, who wants to send this version of the Yuletide staple packing.

“Not a fan,” said Mackey, adding, “Asbury has conformed into this artsy town, but tradition is tradition! This is art, and I wouldn’t take my child’s picture in front of this tree. Can’t we just have our traditional tree?”

Meanwhile, Wall resident Zuzanna Humeniuk bemoaned its lack of lights. “It’s creative, but not festive at all.”

However, Asbury Park resident Elizabeth Khimitch approved “The Giving Tree,” saying Porkchop’s artistic display matched the offbeat ethos of the town made famous by Bruce Springsteen: “I think it’s very creative. It fits the Asbury vibe, which is different and unusual.”

The shift from tradition came after the local art community approached the boardwalk owner and manager Madison Marquette about installing a Christmas tree sculpture.

“Because the boardwalk is a focal point for Asbury Park’s thriving arts and music community, and because we have a long-standing and very strong relationship with top-name local artists, when presented with the concept for the sculpture, we passionately embraced the idea,” said Austin Leopold, the boardwalk’s property manager.

The freshly cut Christmas tree in Asbury Park has been replaced by a cardboard sculpture this year.
The freshly cut Christmas tree in Asbury Park has been replaced by a cardboard sculpture this year.

The boardwalk bosses tapped the local artists, noting there would be no fresh fir this year.

“I was asked to come in and do something festive-ish,” Porkchop said. “It wasn’t my intention to take away anyone’s Christmas tree. If you’re not going to give people the big tree they want, some of them are going to hate it. I understand that. But they weren’t going to get that traditional Christmas tree anyway.”


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