Thursday, August 18, 2022

Shining for Love

Photo by Bill Castleman
Photo by Bill Castleman

A shining tree with bright white lights has become a rite of passage for many in and around Bartonville. Sitting just off McMakin Road on Barbara Nunneley’s ranch, the holiday tree wrapped from top to bottom – including the trunk and each individual limb – lights up the night sky each Thanksgiving through Christmas, beckoning passersby to stop and gaze.

The tree also beckons young lovers to propose to their intendeds, says Nunneley, a refreshing change from her day job as a divorce attorney.

“About a half dozen or more young men have asked to propose to their girlfriends under the tree,” she said. “It’s a feel-good thing.”

The effort to cover the large tree in lights requires a cherry picker, a crane, a boom truck and a handful of skilled employees to do the job. And despite the 30,000 lights on the be-decked tree, it only costs about $1 a day in electricity, she says.

Now in its seventh year, the OMG tree, as it is known around Bartonville, stands as a symbol of hope and wonder and – to Nunneley – love.

It was love that first launched the idea of wrapping the tree in 300 of 100-light strands.

Seven years ago, Nunneley’s father was in the final stages of battling prostate cancer when he was planning a visit to her Bartonville home for the holidays. In anticipation, she called the Dallas-based Christmas Light Company to deck out the house in lights for a blow-out celebration for what would likely be her father’s last holiday season. The owner suggested lighting up the tree, she said. And so she did.

Unfortunately, just before that Thanksgiving, her father’s illness took a turn for the worse and he was unable to make the trip, passing a day later.

“He never saw it on earth,” she said. “I’d like to think he sees it anyway.”

See the Tree – From south: Head north on Shiloh Road from FM 1171 (Shiloh becomes McMakin). Look for the tree on the left just past Barrington Hills Blvd. From north: Head south on McMakin Road from FM 407 near Lantana. Tree is on the right just before Barrington Hills Blvd.

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