A sign of the season, the Macy's (Once) Great Tree has been erected at Lenox Square in preparation for the Holiday Season. After a year relegated to the parking lot for naughty behavior following the 2012 season, the tree could be seen Monday once again atop the Macy's store, at the corner of Peachtree and Lenox roads. Alas, the "tree," a conical green arrangement of fuzz, has been retained from last year, dashing hopes of a return to an actual real tree. Because of this, a little rebranding might be appropriate; the Macy's Mediocre Tree has a nice ring to it. In some ways, the faux conifer is a slap in the face to a facet of Atlanta's yuletide history.
The tradition started in 1948, when the flagship Rich's store — located on Broad Street between Alabama and Hunter streets — was topped with a 70-foot live Christmas tree, a testament to the longstanding relationship with the city and the retail giant downtown. Billed as the "Rich's Great Tree," for many years the tree presided over Forsyth Street on the Crystal Bridge which linked the original building and the home store. The tree, with four stories of Christmas displays below it, was such a site to see its image was used on the cover of Time magazine in 1961.
With the closure of the downtown store in 1991, the tree found a new home at Underground Atlanta before being relocated to Lenox Mall. From the 1990s onward, a white pine has stood on the roof of the front corner of the mall, facing the intersection of Peachtree and Lenox. Until the mid-2000s, when Macy's bought Rich's, the annual tradition remained relatively unchanged.
Following a brief stint as the "Rich's-Macy's Great Tree," Macy's expunged our heritage from the department store and the Christmas festivities. Just after New Year's in 2013, as the 2012 tree was being removed from the roof, the foliage decided to put up a fight. Punching a hole through the roof and taking out some windows, the tree draped itself off the front of the store like a nog-drunk Grinch.
Claiming eco-friendliness (though likely with the happy byproduct of reduced costs, maintenance and presumably liability), Macy's opted for a fake tree last year. If that weren't Grinch-y enough, they erected the tree in the parking lot, which was a super-lame move. With the tree back on the roof this year, it seems things are moving in the right direction. Now, as the holiday hordes sit in traffic around the mall, they can clearly see — and extract Christmas joy from — this lofty "tree." Or they can grumble about it being an impostor.
The 67th Annual Great Tree Lighting will go down (though hopefully not literally) on Thanksgiving night at Lenox Square.
·Macy's Great Tree Lighting at Lenox Square Mall (November 27, 2014) [Occupy My Family]
·Rich's Department Store [New Georgia Encyclopedia]