ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - It's official; the iconic piece of Spenard history, a 22-foot neon palm tree, which once stood in front of a motel, will now be coming back to the neighborhood for good.
"Sixty people who love Spenard contributed $2,700 in a Go Fund Me account to buy the palm tree," said Jay Stange, president of the Spenard Community Council, in an email Monday. "Spenard owns it now."
Stange, who championed the retrieval of the "iconic" tree, which once graced the front of what the GoFundMe fundraising page called "the sometimes sketchy Paradise Inn," said the auction closed at 10 a.m. Monday, with the Spenard bidders being the only ones to make an offer.
The tree's backstory goes back to that hotel, the Paradise Inn, on West 30th Ave. The tree sat outside the motel, now abandoned and boarded up after shutting down, until a garbage disposal company contracted to haul up the debris took the tree for itself.
Following complaints and legal action by the federal government, which told the garbage company that the tree was its property, a judge ruled on the tree's fate.
It was ordered to be returned to the government, where it was placed with the U.S. Marshals Service, and then auctioned. Now, after all the drama - it's coming back to Spenard.
From here, Stange said, the council will wire the money to the auctioneers and a pickup will be scheduled, potentially this week, to bring the palm tree home.
"When we pick it up, we’re going to parade it around Spenard like we just won the World Cup. It will be a big homecoming parade," Stange wrote.
As for what will ultimately be done with the palm tree, there are some ideas, but nothing concrete planned at this time.
“I don’t know where it is going yet, but I can tell you where it isn’t going," Stange said in an email to KTUU. "My wife says it will not be under a blue tarp in my backyard.”
Instead, he hopes to make it part of a public art installation in Spenard.