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TC partners with LGBT group to plant 'wishing tree'

Nobuhiro Suhara

Traverse City officials are teaming up with an LGBT organization to build a piece of public art downtown.

The city Arts Commission plans to erect a “wishing tree” in the Warehouse District during the annual Up North Pride week in June. The tree is meant to hold handwritten wishes tied to its branches.

The City Commission approved the project Monday night and approved spending up to $2,000 on the tree.

Traverse City resident Rick Buckhalter opposed the project. He said the Arts Commission is overstepping its bounds.

“The Arts Commission is using this as a platform to push social change,” said Buckhalter. “That is outrageous. This has nothing whatsoever to do with art.”

“I understand that this will not be popular with everyone,” said Arts Commissioner Deb Lake. “But I think, in the end, it’s all going to add up to a better and stronger Traverse City.”

Lake says the city will work with Loud and Proud, the group that puts on Up North Pride week every year.

“I support Loud and Proud, and I support the Coast Guard, with whom we’re working on another sculpture that’s going to be going up soon,” says Lake. “These are all organizations that are important to me, and I think all of us together make America what it is.”

Wishing trees were made popular by artist Yoko Ono in the 1980s. 

Traverse City’s tree will be placed on Garland Street in front of the Workshop Brewing Company. It will be open to the public year-round.