Enormous Santa cap tops off damaged Anthem Christmas tree

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ANTHEM -- The folks at the Outlets at Anthem came up with a way to repair their massive Christmas tree that received a buzz cut thanks to Mother Nature.

Monday's high winds sheared off 15 feet from the top of the tree, leaving what was once an 80-foot tree nearly flat on top.

Using a special lift, several Outlets staffers installed an enormous red stocking cap with a pompom on the treetop.

Using 20 yards of fabric, Outlets Customer Service Manager Peg Walker created the cap, which is 18 feet in circumference. The project took her nearly two days to complete.

"Shoppers and area residents were so emotional when they saw the damage," said Outlets Marketing Director Sallyann Martinez. "The tree is such a holiday icon in the Valley that we wanted to make it festive again. This was the best way to keep the holiday spirit alive, have some fun and still enjoy the lights and music of our magnificent tree."

The 45-year-old white fir traveled 748 miles from the Oregon border to the Outlets at Anthem and was put into place by a huge crane a couple of days before Halloween. It took 12 days to shape the tree, spray it with fire retardant, light and decorate it. Prior to Monday's storm it featured more than 25,000 lights, ornaments and bows.

The mall will tie the "top it off" theme into its holiday food drive for the Foothills Food Bank. Shoppers are asked to "top off" the food drive with donations of canned and pre-packaged food through Dec. 18.