Smiling tree brings joy to Huntington Beach community

The giant tree has been given a new face for every season.
Huntington Beach, CALIF. (KABC) -- What started as a little tree in a pot is now a smiling giant 20 years later and the inspiration for a children's book.

The owner of the smiling tree in Huntington Beach, Edgar Palacol, says it looked easy to trim... when it was small.

"The gardener would cut it, then I thought well I could easily do it, I have the tools. But it turned out I didn't have the ladder, so I had to stop at the top and let it grow out," said Palacol.

After a suggestion from his wife to put a face on it, the tree has been given a new face for every season.

From Christmas to Halloween to even the COVID-19 pandemic, the tree has brought a smile to neighbors and strangers for more than 14 years.

The French family who lives across the street says the pandemic look was their favorite, because "he had put a mask on it that said 'stay strong HB.'"

"Even during this challenging time the tree is being a good citizen and staying six feet away from other trees and keeping his mask on at all times," joked Justin French.

The smiling tree even inspired Julie Williams, a neighbor and retired teacher, to write and illustrate "The Smiling Tree."

"I've had the idea of writing children's books in the back of my mind for a long time but never did much about it, but then when I saw the tree I thought, 'why not give it a try?'"

The best part for the man behind the creativity is the cheer his work brings to his community.

"Kids take the long way back home from school just to see the tree, so that is one thing that made me feel good about doing it and why I continue to do it."

"The Smiling Tree" is available where most books are sold.
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