BY JOHN WILTON
SPECIAL TO THE BEACON
Thanks to Mary McBride and her “Masked Tree Wrappers,” and with the help of the City of DeLand Facilities Department, new yarn-art wraps can be seen around 13 palm trees on the south end of town. That brings the total number of palm trees wrapped to 20.
The DeLand Tree Wrap Project began in 2017, when John Wilton and Ray Johnson spotted a palm-tree trunk wrapped in yarn at the intersection of South Florida and West Wisconsin avenues. It had been created and installed by the owners of Fabrications, a fiber- and fabric-arts shop at that intersection. Wilton and Johnson contracted with owners Nancy Gear and Julie Scheurich for as many wraps as they could produce. They then successfully pitched the project to the Public Art Committee at the Museum of Art – DeLand.
Fabrications produced six more wraps before the business closed at the end of 2019. When Wilton announced that the Fabrications group would not be creating any more tree wraps, committee member McBride volunteered to take on the task, as she had secretly yearned to do tree bombing for many years, and she belonged to two fiber-art groups.
“How hard could it be?” she thought. “And what fun!”
In late 2020, coordinated by Kieu Moses, events manager for the City of DeLand, ACED DeLand revived the project, resulting in the 13 new wraps created by the Masked Wrappers, including friends Pamela Kettner of Lake Helen, Dale Samler of DeLand, Peggy Imbert of Edgewater, Anne Sweeny of DeLeon Springs, and Gale Harbeck of Geneva.
McBride began visiting thrift shops when they opened again and picked up the beloved but discarded afghans crocheted or knitted by devoted grandmas and mothers. Every shop had them, and she built up a large collection in assorted colors, patterns and sizes, spending less than $4 apiece.
McBride’s mind continued to spin with ideas, which she sketched out, and the stitchers took McBride’s raw ideas and brought them to life with enthusiasm.