Since the beginning of November, what many dub as the official start of the holiday season, the Tustin Market Place has been decked head-to-toe in festive colors, lights and wreaths. Hot chocolate sales have soared, Starbucks has launched its latest collection of holiday beverages and cups and Californians have finally put to use their sweaters and coats from the back of their closets.
But what has ruined the festive spirit of this jolly season is the trees. Yes, those hideously gaudy faux-Christmas trees decked head-to-toe—not in candy canes, red and green ornaments, or stars but in orange fluff and giant Anaheim Ducks logos.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t mean to replace the Ducks tree with a grand Official Christmas Tree commemorating Christ. I’m a reasonable person; I can see how an officially religious tree may not be the best idea for a public mall in a religiously diverse area. But a hockey tree? In an athletically diverse area? Come on.
Sure, the Ducks may have had their fair share of wins in the past. Sure, the team may excite the occasional hockey fan in Southern California. But what we want to see during this season is a tree that evokes joy, warmth and giddy anticipation for whatever upcoming holiday, whether it be Christmas or Kwanzaa.
For some, The Market Place trees outside of Panda Express and the Regal Edwards movie theater is a common destination for photo-taking. I myself may have taken a couple dozen pictures in front of said trees back when I was an uninformed sophomore. But, now, as an educated senior, I see through the flashy lights that can lure any unsuspecting mall-dweller to take photos in the shadow of the Ducks logos.
Yes, the lights may attract family, friends and couples, but the garish decorations do not make for a festive photo to be framed in the living room or on a phone background. There is nothing particularly festive about hockey other than the ice and cold (which Southern California lacks anyway). Instead, the Irvine Management Company of the Tustin Market Place should use its maintenance and decoration budget elsewhere.
“I’m just wondering if they’re worth the effort or cost to put up just for decoration,” said senior Juliana Chou, a regular at Blk Dot Coffee next to The Market Place’s Edwards Stadium. They take up huge spaces that could be used for more effective advertising (imagine the opportunity cost!) and are not worth the funding from the Anaheim Ducks. Even if the Irvine Management Company makes a big profit out of the Ducks trees, the company owes it to the people of Irvine to create an aesthetic mall that appeals to the eye.
Despite the prohibition of Christmas trees out of the lack of religious inclusivity, putting up a tree at all is a well-known symbol of Christmas and Christianity regardless. No matter what may decorate a tree, whether it be an angel or an Anaheim Ducks logo, the tree is still a Christmas tree. There is no point in smothering it in tasteless accessories—the company is not hiding anything from us.
And, even so, The Market Place hosted the “Duck the Halls” Tree Lighting Ceremony this year. Admittedly, the pun is somewhat clever, but the event had activities like a “Christmas Tree ornament craft area” and provided “Christmas Tree Cookies.” If religious inclusivity is the professed goal of having non-religious trees and decorations, then hosting events with only Christmas traditions is hypocritical and counterintuitive. Not a single Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or other November-December holiday was included in the festive event.
So The Market Place. Which is it? Religiously inclusive with family-friendly hockey trees? Or stubbornly hypocritical with ugly, orange trees?