Solving the Mystery of the ‘Trash Trees’ of West End Avenue

By Mildred Alpern

The mystery of the holiday Christmas trees on West End Avenue and 87th Street has been solved.

Charlene Floyd, an academic director of the Bard College Harlem Clemente Course in the Humanities at the Drew Hamilton Community Center uptown and a professor of political science, has led a team effort involving the youth of the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew along with adult friends over the years. She labels the festive creations “trash trees with bottle cap branches.”

The project began in 2011 when bottle caps were non-recyclable (they are recyclable now). She and her family members collected them in tubs and had fun playing and creating with them. Her mother, an art teacher, tried out and tested projects at home. Charlene and her family did the same.

Holes in the caps were made with power drills and strung on twine. Then a cone frame and a broken umbrella stand became the basis for a tree that was submitted in 2012 to the Maker Faire in Queens, a celebration of invention and creativity.

Over the years, her husband, the pastor of the church, has added lights that add a rich sparkle at night. The jovial pig was donated by a local tree seller. Fancy ribbon has morphed into a new treetop ornament.

These “trash trees with bottle cap branches” will be up until Martin Luther King Day, January 21st, and are well worth a visit.

ART | 10 comments | permalink
    1. Susan Gutterman says:

      What a good time to read a heart-warming story.

    2. jerry says:

      Gone way to far.

    3. Keith says:

      I used to tutor at that church. Charlene and her husband are two of the greatest people on the planet.

    4. Kathleen says:

      Nice, they’re bright and sparkly with lots of color. These are the type of things that make a neighborhood a neighborhood. Thank you, Charlene Floyd and team.

    5. Lela Hilton says:

      Well done to Charlene and her team! From your darling Clementines.

    6. David O. says:

      There are several trash trees on W. 103rd st. near Amsterdam. The residents of Fredrick Douglass throw garbage out the windows and it gets caught in the trees. I have tried to get tNYC Parks to come clean up the trees, but to no avail. DSNY, same. We have shirts, pants, garbage bags, rope, shoes, etc. I hope for severe storms with high winds…

    7. Pcnyc says:

      The Christmas tree guys from Broadway gave up their flying pig?! I can’t believe it! What will they do next year; that pig was like their landmark!
      Ok, now I gotta go see the pig. *sigh*

    8. Jodi says:

      I’ve been walking by these for several years around this time of year, and they never fail to make me happy. Anytime someone does something lovely like this, unbidden, it’s cause for celebration.

    9. Leslie Rupert says:

      These trees are an absolute delight