O Christmas weed: Festive sidewalk plant brings holiday spirit to Toledo
Decorated weed at busy intersection has become a hub of holiday activity
When Troy Emrick passed by a sad weed growing from the pavement at a busy intersection in Toledo, Ohio, he knew what he had to do.
He was heading home from church to nearby Lambertville, Mich., when he spotted the lone plant on Dec. 9.
"He figured if he decorated it, it would make someone smile," his daughter Alyssa Emrick, 20, told As It Happens host Carol Off.
"He pulled over, got some tinsel garland and he just wrapped two strands of it around the little weed and that was it."
But that wasn't it — not by a long shot.
The "Toledo Christmas weed" has since become a local sensation and a hub of holiday activity, with passersby adding to the decorations and sharing their photos online.
A week and a half after Emrick's dad first adorned the weed, it is barely visible amid the festive decor that has sprung up around it — Christmas lights, stuffed animals, a tree skirt, wrapped presents and more.
It even has its own Facebook page with 9,800 followers.
"We had absolutely no idea that it was going to turn into, like, this entire thing," Alyssa Emrick said. "We didn't even believe it at first when we started seeing the pictures."
The corner of West Alexis and Secor roads soon became an unofficial drop-off centre for holiday donations on a take-what-you-need basis.
The city took notice and teamed up with Keep Toledo Lucas County Beautiful to provide official donation bins for non-perishable food and clothing to be distributed among local charities, the Toledo Blade reports.
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Emrick's dad couldn't be more pleased, she said.
"He was really happy that people were having fun with it, but when he found out about the donations, he was ecstatic," she said.
"He was so excited to hear that it went from making people smile, to taking that and making it about giving back to others as well."
But there is one sad twist to this otherwise happy holiday tale.
Last weekend, someone cut the Christmas weed down leaving only a few inches, Emrick said.
"But that didn't stop anyone," she said.
"I think it was only a couple hours later, someone put a potted plant, a dead potted plant, out in its place, and people just started decorating around that like it never disappeared."
"The thing is, it was never about the weed. It was about people coming together and adding their contributions," Emrick said.
"I think it all comes down to people are looking for the positivity in the world, people are looking for the good, and that when they find it, they really want to hold on to that."
Written by Sheena Goodyear. Produced by Katie Geleff.