Christmas tree for well-heeled

By Sonya Bateson

Jandals, gumboots, stilettos and sneakers aren't the usual Christmas decorations - but at The Gardens retirement village they've been transformed into an eye-catching Christmas tree.

Standing in the reception area of the village, the shoe tree is, in fact, a bean frame covered with donated shoes which have been spray painted a festive silver and hung with twinkling fairy lights.

The shoe tree not only celebrates a festive season in an unconventional way, it is also attracting a lot of attention.

The Gardens' activities co-ordinator and tree creator June Hamilton said hanging on the frame were women's high heels, stilettos, jandals, gumboots, school shoes, women's boots, sand shoes, kids' shoes and even a flipper.

She said she came up with the idea for the tree after seeing a similar creation in a hairdresser's made of hairbrushes.

"I saw a little wee tree in the hairdresser's that had hairbrushes on it and thought I could do something like that. Everyone has shoes so I asked family members and staff for donations. I got a whole heap donated, then bought a bean frame, stuffed it full of newspaper, hung the shoes on it and spray-painted it.

There's just so many shoes on here of all sizes and all ages."

Ms Hamilton said when visitors walked in the door and saw the tree, their first reaction was usually to get out their cell phone or a camera to take a photo.

"People are just loving it, it just stops them in their tracks. They keep saying how marvellous it is and how they've never seen anything like that.

"It makes a big difference from an ordinary tree and it's not the sort of thing you expect to see in a rest home."

Creative Christmas trees could become a tradition. Ms Hamilton said she might invent something different next year and people had already suggested ideas.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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