As people awoke May 1, they discovered a local tourist attraction was no more.
The Amber Hula Hoop Tree had been taken down over night, due to ongoing safety concerns.
“It is with very mixed feelings and heavy hearts that we have to post that her majesty will now just live in the memories, photographs and videos of all who’ve visited. Like the COVID-19 situation that we’ve all been enduring, decisions and actions are implemented for the safety of the public. We will miss her very much, but we are relieved that She’s been taken down before any tragedy befell a visitor,” the post on the Amber Iowa Hula Hoop Tree Facebook page said.
“She had her moment in the spotlight, loved her visitors, was there for engagements, birthdays, anniversaries and Sunday drives. A big dead old tree decorated with hoops. I’d have to think she’d have been taken down long ago if it wasn’t for this glorious experiment in public art,” a subsequent post read, in part.
The safety concerns, broached at the Jones County Board of Supervisors meeting in September when the speed limit around the tree was lowered, were brought back up April 28 as Supervisor Jon Zirkelbach expressed concerns about people not obeying the governor’s gathering and social distancing restrictions.
Zirkelbach, who owns 51 percent of the land the tree was on, was advised that he should contact the Jones County Sheriff’s Office for future infractions. However, the family made the decision to cut it down and had been subject to vitriol from some of the tree’s fans on social media.
As questions came flooding into the tree’s popular page, with now more than 5,000 likes, what happened to the hoops or how many there were at the time the tree was taken down was not immediately known. The popular root rocks, painted rocks that were left for visitors to take, will be made available for free will donation at the Monticello Heritage and Cultural Center once they reopen.
In the aftermath of the tree getting cut down, there was plenty of discussion about what the future will hold or where a new tree could be. In the search, one local option was quickly debunked.
“Word is quickly spreading that Riverside Gardens has a hula hoop tree. While it is true that there is a tree there that currently has hula hoops in it, we ask that you do not continue throwing them in this tree. We are looking for alternative options within the Riverside area that would be better options as to not harm a healthy/growing tree and not disturb the surrounding flower gardens that the Riverside volunteers work so hard on,” Monticello Parks and Recreation Department posted on their Facebook page.
Bobby Krum, president of the Amber Community Club, has started up a GoFundMe for the next phase of the tourist attraction.
“We at the Amber Community Club have dreaded seeing this day come for our little community, but we knew it would come eventually. It was the best move for safety of the visitors to remove the tree at this time. The Hula Hoop Tree has brought so much enjoyment to so many over the years and put little Amber, Iowa, on the map as a tourist destination, which we will always be grateful for! We now need something in honor and memory of the Hula Hoop Tree,” Krum said on the GoFundMe page for the project.
Krum has contacted some local artists to try to get some designs and an estimated cost for a metal monument to be placed at the Amber Community Club.