MEMPHIS, Mo. — Efforts to replace the Southland Mall Christmas tree are receiving some much-needed support. Community members are close to reaching their goal in continuing their Christmas tree tradition.
It is more than a tree.
“It’s iconic for the area,” said Pearl Walker, I Love Whitehaven Neighborhood and Business Association Founder and Executive Director.
It is hope.
“I lived in Whitehaven for over 10 years, so that’s one thing that my kids and I were happy to come see, the big Christmas tree they had up here,” said Lisa Flowers, a Southaven resident.
This year is different.
“I’ve seen the other day on Facebook what they had the little Christmas tree. I’m like Southland Mall done shot out. What kind of mess is this,” asked Flowers.
That mess is what Flowers and other community members called the tree that stood outside the mall last week.
“There were a lot of calls to the mall about the tree. Later it was brought to my attention that the tree wasn’t completed yet. I don’t know if that’s true or not,” said Walker.
She said the tree was taken down after many complained about its look, but the group, Respect the HAVEN, is determined not to go tree-less.
“…A lady who had a tree for sale in Collierville that is 30-feet tall. She wanted $18,000, but for $24,000, she would include lights, decorations, delivery, installation, and storage,” said Walker.
Community members started raising fund to reach the $24,000 goal. They are more than halfway there.
“I think it’s a great way to show community pride and support. The donations are not just coming from Whitehaven residents. They’re coming from all over the city, all over Shelby County,” said Walker. “Unfortunately, there’s a lot of social ills in Memphis that are worthy of support as well.”
Some in the community have said those resources should be poured into other issues of concern such as safety.
“The way I’ve been responding to those is okay. Let’s do it. Do you have something? Are you working on something already? Let’s do it. Let’s do it all,” said Walker.
The tree fundraising is a way to show that unity to get a new tree can be the same unity to address other concerns.
“It means that there’s positive energy. There can be new energy,” said Walker. It is also new hope.
We spoke with Southland Mall management and owners, Mason Asset Management and Namdar Realty Group. They released the following statements.
Regarding the string of unfortunate events at the mall:
“Mall management has always sought to create a safe and enjoyable shopping environment at Southland Mall and is aware of the concerns surrounding activities that have taken place on-property which detract from that mission. The mall has increased its existing security hours, and children under the age of 18 are no longer permitted to enter the mall without adult supervision. We are committed to the safety and security of our community and will continue to evaluate and introduce additional solutions should additional concerns arise.“
Regarding the Christmas Tree:
"Our team is invested in the future of Southland Mall and its surrounding community, and we are working with community leaders and activists to generate excitement at our center. Our team is actively in communication with The Whitehaven Community to raise money for a Christmas tree this holiday season. We are also open to hosting community events at the mall and would love to hear from other members of the community that might be interested in getting involved. ”
Community leaders are planning to meet with Southland Mall managers. That meeting is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday. If you are interested in supporting efforts to get a new tree, click here.