‘More than a tree’: Celebration of life held for ‘Dorothy’s Tree’ in Sioux Falls

Celebration of life held for ‘Dorothy’s Tree’ in Sioux Falls
Published: Nov. 12, 2023 at 6:45 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Earlier this month, the Sioux Falls First United Methodist Church leaders informed the congregation that an iconic and beloved 50-foot tree at the end of their parking lot would be taken down. It sits along one of the busiest roads in Sioux Falls, Minnesota Avenue. It has been a fixture of a Christmastime tradition for over thirty years and the pine has provided light and joy to passersby with its decorations for the holiday season. This year things will look different.

It was the idea of Dale and Dorothy Weir. Dale asked his wife what she wanted for Christmas and while driving on Minnesota Avenue, she said that she wanted to see the tree lit and decorated for those who drove past. Now, they call it ‘Dorothy’s Tree’.

“This tree was something that they hoped would provide some hope, some happiness for people as they drove by and saw it,” explained Kenny Anderson Jr., a lifelong Sioux Falls resident and former city council member. “Every day when I drive by, I always look up at the tree even though it’s not lit. It still means a lot.”

Despite Dale and Dorothy’s passing, the tree kept displaying the magic of the holiday season with the coordinated efforts of the First United Methodist Church and a fund that Dale had established to continue what they started in the 1990s.

“Sometimes it’s those symbols that remind us that light breaks through the darkness and so I think this tree, it’s more than a tree. It’s really become a symbol of hope,” said the church’s pastor, Sara Nelson.

Last year, the church noticed the tree was dying and at the end of its life. On Sunday, they took time to remember it and all it stood for. At a celebration of life service, they told stories of the history of the tree, read through a litany for the tree and prayed for the future tree. They look forward to carrying on the tradition with a 40-foot artificial tree on a new concrete platform.

“It was really important when we saw that the tree was continuing to decline and when we talked to the arborist and knew that it was dying and that it couldn’t be replanted that we find a way to continue this really important tradition,” Nelson described.

“That is honoring the wishes of the people who did this, who provided that tree,” said Anderson.

On November 26th, the church will host an inaugural tree-lighting ceremony for the new version of ‘Dorothy’s Tree’. The public is invited to attend.