Monday, November 17, 2014

Great idea, Homer


Behold the World’s Largest Christmas Tree as it appeared from the observation deck of the City-County Building in downtown Indianapolis in December, 1967.

The idea of decorating the Soldiers and Sailors Monument as the World's Largest Christmas Tree was the brainchild of Homer Heusing, an executive of American Fletcher National Bank (later Bank One, later still CHASE) whose office on Monument Circle overlooked the monument.

The monument had been decorated on a smaller scale since 1945, but the big tree lit up for the first time in 1962. I had the pleasure of interviewing Homer for The Indianapolis News in November, 1967.

The first time I saw the big tree was in December, 1966 when I was beginning my journalism career at the Tipton (Ind.) Tribune.

I was abusing Romilar, a popular cough medicine that contained a synthetic morphine, with my friend Steve Power. We were driving downtown in Steve’s mother’s VW beetle and Steve approached the Monument by a circuitous route. When he finally turned on to Meridian Street and the Monument hove into view, my drug addled senses had me momentarily believing IT WAS A REAL TREE!

(At 284 feet, it’s still not as tall as the tallest Giant Sequoia known – “Hyperion,” which stands 379 feet 4 inches tall in Redwood National Park, California.)

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