Chandler's tumbleweed Christmas tree ready for lights

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CHANDLER, Ariz. -- It's a Southwestern tradition that draws visitors from all over -- Chandler's tumbleweed Christmas tree.

The tradition of the tumbleweed tree dates back to 1957 when Chandler resident Earl Barnum first floated the idea after seeing something similar in Indiana. Members of the community built the first tree using tumbleweeds they gathered around town. A new holiday tradition was born.

Today, the tree is 25 feet tall, made of about 1,000 tumbleweeds attached to a wire frame. The tumbleweeds are sprayed with white paint and fire retardant and then decorates with 1,200 sparkling lights.

On Nov. 16 (nearly two weeks ago), Bruce Haffner gave us a bird's eye view of the early phases of construction, including the massive pile of hundreds of tumbleweeds.

Haffner flew the Fort McDowell Casino News Chopper back over the tree Monday morning, show us the progress. It's almost finished. Crews are ready to string the lights.

Some 12,000 people are expected to watch the mayor and City Council light the tree.

The lighting ceremony is Saturday, Dec. 3, 4:30 p.m.-9 p.m. in Historic Downtown Chandler.