35-Foot holiday art installation made from bicycles to be donated to area children
Downtown Silver Spring’s unique holiday tree tradition of “Re-Imagining the Holidays” has awed and inspired residents and visitors for the past five years. The annual 35-foot tall tree is an annual creative work of art, based each year on a different artists theme and created using different materials. For instance, one year the tree was made from toys. Another year, it was made using musical instruments. Last year, the artists created a tree using brightly colored umbrellas. Every year there’s a strong charity tie-in as well and the tree has become a major holiday display and attraction.
This year is no exception. The artists who create the tree annually, recently announced this year’s design. The “Good Energy Tree” focuses on the power and possibilities of the bicycle. Bicycling not only represents low-cost, environmentally friendly and sustainable transportation, but it also promotes a healthy and active lifestyle.
At the base of the soon-to-be-built tree, Capital Bikeshare is lending 12 of their bikes to be part of the display. These surround and form the base of the tree and they’re operable! The public is invited to hop on and stretch their legs, or charge their cell phone (peddling power). The bikes are connected to a 300watt generator which can provide power to a USB port and to better banks that also help to power the tree lights. Gauges on each bike allow the peddler to see how much energy they’re producing.
In keeping with the clean power theme, there are also solar panels and a wind-powered tree topper. The balance of the tree is also made of bikes. They’re all individually lit and will be donated at the end of the holiday season.
Near to the tree is a breezeway where attendees pass from the parking garage to the street. The bicycle theme continues in the breezeway with some fun, whimsical sculptures made from various wheels, gears, pulleys and bicycle frame parts that revolve in choreographed arcs. Multi-colored plexiglass panels are interlaced into the spokes and lit from above creating a dazzling array of patterns projected onto the floor. All of the components are sourced from various bicycle recycle programs.
“Good Energy Tree” was designed by award-winning and internationally acclaimed artists Jon Taylor and Karl Unnasch. The artistic tree will be unveiled to the public during a festive street party and lighting ceremony.
Installation of the tree takes place on the week of November 6th. The Holiday Tree Lighting and Street Party is November 11th at 6 p.m.
“This is one of the most creative trees ever,” said Laurie Yankowski, regional marketing director for Peterson Companies retail portfolio. Yankowski oversees Downtown Silver Spring and also oversees the art installation. “The interactive component makes this an incredible work of art and a fun destination for visitors. I hope that everyone will come out to enjoy it; you can’t help but be happy when you see all of the bicycles.”
Yankowski added that the project is in partnership with A Wider Circle, a local non-profit that helps families in need in the region. At the end of the season, the bicycles on the tree will go to families being helped by A Wider Circle. “We hope to make the holiday season brighter for some of the children in our community,” stated Yankowski.
Sponsors include DARCARS as the presenting sponsor; Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s (MCDOT) Capital Bikeshare program that is providing 12 bikes to adorn the base of the tree; and Adventist Healthcare, providing a Heart Healthy Cycling tie in.
The Good Energy tree is located at 916 Ellsworth Drive at Downtown Silver Spring’s Fountain Plaza. For more information, visit www.DowntownSilverSpring.com.