Christmas controversy takes root in Whitehaven

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s the day before Thanksgiving but the Christmas tree at the Southland Mall has already gone up...and come down.

Every year, Whitehaven residents look forward to the 40-foot-tall Christmas tree outside of the mall. But, this year’s display caused some backlash.

Instead of the typical tree, residents were met with, what they have dubbed, the “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree”.

Southland Mall’s beloved Christmas tree had been damaged and the mall didn’t have the money to replace it, leading the mall to put up the new, smaller tree instead, according to Jason Sharif, founder of Respect the Haven CDC.

“The mall is struggling financially. They don’t have a lot of money. They are dealing with a lot of thefts and a lot of other problems at the mall,” Sharif told FOX13.

But, pictures posted to Facebook of the replacement weren’t met with holiday cheer.

“The Grinch done stole the Christmas tree at the Southland Mall, ‘cause baby what is this?” one Facebook comment said.

Someone else commented, “Can y’all please check the mall attic for the rest of the pieces?”

The backlash got so bad that the mall took the tree down, Sharif said.

Still, the money excuse doesn’t add up for some people like Pearl Walker, founder of the I Love Whitehaven Neighborhood Association.

“To say that you didn’t have the funds, I’d be embarrassed to say that because this is a multi-million-dollar property,” Walker said.

Sharif, the SchoolSeed Foundation and other members of the Whitehaven community have created a donation to gather money for a new tree. Sharif estimates that new tree, complete with decorations, will cost about $30,000.

“If 2,000 people just donate $20, and we have more than 2,000 people in Whitehaven, I believe we can definitely do it,” Sharif said.

You can click here if you’re interested in donating the fund for the new Whitehaven Christmas tree.