A Charlie Brown-like Christmas tree is bringing one Winnipeg community together.
With Christmas just around the corner and no end in sight to the COVID 19 closures, St. James area resident Ricardo Martinez figured it was time for some positive change.
Together with his family, Martinez decided to decorate a small evergreen tree located in the middle of Marjorie Park, right across the street from his house.
After seeing the smiles the simple gesture brought to his own kids, he thought it would be something great to share with the entire community.
With help from his local MLA Adrien Sala, he printed out 150 letters encouraging area residents to get involved. He then hand-delivered them to everyone in the neighbourhood. Within a day or so, people from the community slowly started coming out to decorate the tree.
"By mid-week, we were having a couple of people every couple of hours show up to decorate the tree," said Martinez.
As the tree continues to fill up, Martinez says there are two ornaments that really stick out, one that says 'Stay Calm, Press On and another that says 'Be happy, Be safe'.
Everyday Martinez and his family watch through their window to see who is hanging new decorations. He says it brings a sense of joy to their home each time someone stops by the tree.
"The looks on their faces is what's most rewarding, cause it's always good to see the kids smile, explained Martinez. "It's been a very difficult year for our kids, getting used to remote learning and being away from school, friends, routines, sports and activities they do on the side. It's been a bright spot for them especially to see them smile when the decorations go up."
Martinez says although the tree is filling up quickly, there is still plenty of space for those interested in adding an ornament or two.
"If we decorate this tree and somebody is struggling through the holidays or they're feeling extra lonely because they can't get together with family for the typical Christmas celebrations, then this would be a good way for them to feel connected to the whole community, the extended community at large."
He hopes that people will look at the tree and realize there are other people going through this difficult time with them and they're not alone.
"Maybe it gives them a little bit of faith and hope that things will eventually pass and return to normal. That's what it's about, " Martinez said.
He is also encouraging other communities that have a park in their neighbourhood to do the same thing.
"I think at this point in the season we can all stand to feel a little more connected to each other that way," said Martinez.
Winnipeggers are welcome to add decorations up until Christmas. The decorations can be picked up in the new year. Any leftover decorations will be taken down and stored in Martinez's garage until next year.