Re-Tree Returns to Tiverton Four Corners

Creatives prep for annual festival of upcycled tenenbaums

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With December fast approaching, it’s tempting to climb up into the attic and retrieve your artificial tree a tiny bit early or begin stalking tree farms and garden centers for that holiday centerpiece, ready to be adorned with lights and decorations. On the streets of Tiverton, however, soon you’re likely to see festive assemblages beginning to populate outside storefronts – but these aren’t your typical evergreens.

An annual tradition fostering friendly competition, community pride, and sustainability, the Tiverton Four Corners Arts Center’s Re-Tree project creates a dazzling display of holiday trees made of repurposed materials. This year, the unveiling will take place during their Bright Night event on December 2, making for a festive evening to remember. 

At its core, the concept is simple: participants each construct a fully lit, five- to nine-foot holiday tree made of 90 percent recycled or repurposed materials. Creators install their trees around the Four Corners area, and a panel of three judges scores each masterpiece based on structural integrity, artistic design, and creative use of materials to determine winners in each category. A popular vote prize, with ballots distributed in local shops, will go to the fan-favorite tree. 

Anyone can enter the Re-Tree competition, whether families, local businesses, individuals, or professional artists, resulting in a lot of diversity in style. Children and family trees are judged in their own category to give young and aspiring artists a chance to shine. Desiree Brunton, arts administrator at Four Corners Arts Center, explains, “We wanted something that was going to be very inclusive so that everyone felt like they could get involved.” 

The display began nine years ago when Jennifer Sunderland and Alyssa Wood were seeking a creative way to bring the community together during the holiday season. Inspired by the center’s sculpture park, they invited people to create an array of tree “sculptures” made from found objects. Now, nearly a decade later, the display has morphed into a holiday tradition that occurs during Bright Night, a beloved gathering put on by the Tiverton Four Corners Merchants Association. 

As in past years, luminary-lit paths will guide event-goers to shops and businesses come December 2, while Re-Tree brings additional lumination to the night and inspires onlookers with their innovation. Playing into the sustainability aspect of the competition’s premise, Brunton shares, “We’ve had people who have done environmental themes, so it’s also used as a form of activism or community awareness,” as well as being stunning to behold.

So if the Christmas bug bites you early this year, there’s plenty of time to register by November 18 to get in on the Re-Tree fun. But whether or not you create your own tree, the evening is a merry way to ring in the holidays while supporting local creators and merchants. After all, as Brunton states, “It’s festive and it brings people together.” FourCornersArts.org

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