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Christmas Trees Pop Up In Unlikely Spots – Ocean City Beaches

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Charles Lanzalotti, of Washington Township, his wife, Tara, and their daughters, Annalisa and Sophia, pose next to the south end Christmas tree. (Photo courtesy of the Lanzalotti family)

By MADDY VITALE

When the world is in a pandemic and an end to it does not seem in sight, the little things in life seem to bring hope, happiness and peace.

That is what families said on social media and while visiting the 55th Street beach and North Street beach in Ocean City on Saturday. People lined up to marvel at a spectacle not typical in the sand that with lights or without seemed to brighten up the beaches – Christmas trees.

Tara Lanzalotti, of Washington Township, her husband, Charlie, and daughters Sophia and Annalisa and Annalisa’s boyfriend, Nick Mohrfeld, of Cherry Hill, stopped down to 55th Street beach to see the cheery sight.

“It is beautiful. It is a tiny, little solitary tree, about five feet tall, but adorable. So many people put sentiments on it and shells,” Tara noted.

She added, “Especially in the pandemic, a Christmas tree on the beach gives people a sense of peace and hope. The seagulls are flying, and you just feel like everything will be OK and you feel a sense of peace.”

Sophia, a college student, said, “I think it is really nice. It is calming.”

Annalisa, who told her family about the tree after seeing it on Facebook, said the family came prepared. They placed shells around the diminutive symbol of hope with messages on them.

One simply said “Merry Christmas” and another says “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.”

The tree at the south end is decorated with shells.

Charlie Lanzalotti added that the family, who purchased a vacation home in Ocean City in August, was able to escape the worries of the pandemic just by taking a stroll down to the beach.

“It is so nice to be able to take your mind from everything going on. Seeing a Christmas tree on the beach really lightens the mood,” he said.

Like the Lanzalottis, Ann Taylor Laverty, an Ocean City resident, said her usual walk on the beach was much brighter Saturday.

“I started walking in earnest about a year ago, and my route is always down to 44th Street to say good morning to the sea, and then along Central for a bit,” she said. “I had to check out this tree today, and it will be part of my daily walk for the next month or so.”

Across town in the north end at North Street, people lined up to take pictures and place personalized shells under another Christmas tree, believed to be the first of the two pleasant holiday treats.

The Listons posed by the tree for a family photo that memorializes the intriguing sight.

Kevin Liston, his wife, Michele, their daughters, Mallory, 8, and 4-year-old Maeve, and even their dog, Zoe, became a part of the tree’s history.

Lines of spectators come to see the special North Street tree.

While it is not 100 percent certain, two people can be credited for these special, little trees – as per social media.

Sue McElwee is said to be responsible for displaying the north end tree and Melanie Murphy Stampone is the person who apparently put up the one in the south end.

In a post on social media Nov. 21, McElwee wrote, “Tis the Season! The North Street tree.”

Phyllis Bozek and a host of others responded.

“Beautiful and brings all the seasons together and looks so calm and peaceful…just what we need now!!”

Dolly Trainer-Brown said, “Thank you for this gift.”

And on Nov. 24 Murphy Stampone thanked McElwee for the idea and summed up the feelings of people who visited the trees Saturday.

“Simple things bring the most joy — south end Christmas tree at 55th Street. Bring your own shells to leave a message, we left the sharpie. Please post your pics. Happy & Healthy Holidays!”

While it is not clear whether this special tradition will continue, judging by the positive reactions for both trees and the people who are credited with the idea, the Christmas trees will likely pop up again next year.

Kevin Liston, his wife, Michele, their daughters, Mallory, 8, and 4-year-old Maeve, and even their dog, Zoe, become a part of the Christmas tree’s history in the north end Saturday. (Photo courtesy the Liston family)
Annalisa Lanzalotti and her boyfriend Nick Mohrfeld at the south end tree.