They’re popping up all over east Lake Highlands – Christmas trees made from lights, mostly in yards north of Church and east of Audelia. The holiday decorating idea is catching, and it’s the brainchild of John Henton.

“I’m not sure what to call them,” says Henton. “I’ve been doing them in my yard for 15 years, and we’ve been expanding street by street into the neighborhood for 5 or 6 years.”

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Henton lives at Vistadale and Caribou Trail, and he began by helping to decorate the yards of a few elderly neighbors who couldn’t manage strings of tangled lights and extension cords for themselves. Then the project took on a life of its own.

“When you see the trees, they just put a smile on your face. It’s fun to be a part of.”

Henton is admittedly old school. He doesn’t post his tree-making instructions on websites or on Facebook or in emails. “I put a flyer out, explaining what to do,” he says. “People make them in all different sizes and colors. Some twinkle. Some are all white.”

The trees are plentiful on Vistadale, and they fan out onto Caribou Trail, Faircrest, Robin Hill, Coveridge and other blocks.

“It’s really about the community,” Henton says. “It’s about checking on your neighbor and families getting out together.”

This year’s beautiful weather has led to more neighbors decorating yards, Henton says, and COVID-19 caused folks to put lights out earlier than ever. The key to their success is the simplicity. The trees aren’t expensive or difficult to build, and families with young children can manage them together.

“I got tired of wrapping trees and climbing on the roof,” Henton jokes. “This is easier for everyone.”

There are no rules to participate, though many folks are opting for LED lights, which give off more light. All that’s required is a pole, 5 stakes, an extension cord and 5 strings of 100 lights.

“At night, people are strolling the streets, looking at lights and catching up with their neighbors,” says Henton. “It gives you a chance to meet people.”

Henton admits he was surprised this year when he began seeing trees in places he hadn’t placed flyers.

“It was grass roots spread. Those folks don’t even know where it started,” says Henton. “I’d love to see all of Lake Highlands covered in trees.” His flyers are below.

John Henton’s tree diagram

John Henton’s tree flyer