A neighborhood protest of a large pothole that has resulted in a Christmas tree sprouting up from a road cone has gone viral with coast to coast news coverage and now a song.
John Drummond put up the scrawny, wire-framed Christmas tree after the city failed to patch a large pothole on the corner of James and North streets in the Edgewood neighborhood.
Soon, neighbors added a large star, ornaments, tinsel, lights and presents underneath it, turning the potential axel-crusher into a pop-up Christmas attraction.
The Associated Press picked up Enterprise-Journal photos of the festive protest, which have been published around the world, leading to additional coverage from Fox News.
The city board addressed this and other potholes last week, noting that crews are working on repairing them as they can amid tight finances, and others may be addressed as part of a $3.2 million bond issue dedicated to street paving.
Meanwhile, residents are making the most out of the failing infrastructure, and motorists normally accustomed to dodging potholes are making special trips to see this one.
Pastor Leon Hitchins of Webb Chapel Church in Liberty wrote the song “Pothole Christmas Tree” after he saw it.
Some of the lyrics include:
Mr. John on the corner
Says there’s no way I’m gonna
Let a pothole ruin my plans
So he transformed himself
Into one of Santa’s elves
And took matters into his own hands
McComb radio personality Fern Crossley, who has been working with Hitchins on a play, showed him the pothole and agreed to finance the recording, which cost $200.
“I took him over there and showed him the tree. He fell out,” she said.
The song isn’t posted online but it’s being circulated locally via text messages, and Crossley planned to air it this morning on her radio show.
For Hitchens, the Christmas tree represents more than a protest of a pothole. He sees it as a unifying force that turns something bad into a vehicle for spreading joy.
“I was really moved by the story,” he said. “All because of the spirit of Christmas and how Mr. Drummond took what was supposed to be a bad situation and made it for the good.”
These McComb neighbors aren’t the only people to plant a Christmas tree in a pothole or even make the local — then national — news about it. It’s a common protest that seemingly takes place anywhere there’s a pothole problem — which means just about everywhere.
Other variations have occurred. Some residents in Jackson threw a birthday party for a pothole. Last week, a WLBT reporter filmed a leaking Jackson fire hydrant that had been transformed into a “zen garden,” with the hydrant used to make a fountain flanked my pink flamingoes and garden gnomes.
And while most people take down their Christmas trees by New Year’s Day, it’s uncertain if the city will have the pothole fixed by then.
But with Twelfth Night and the arrival of Carnival season taking place on Jan. 6, maybe the neighbors will swap out Christmas ornaments with Mardi Gras beads and hope a dump truck shows up before St. Patrick’s Day.
Regardless of its future, Hitchens says now is the time to share in the magic of the pothole Christmas tree.
As the song goes, “If a man can take a pothole and bring the whole world together, the question is what are you doing to spread the Christmas joy?”