He’s a homeless man living under the Pontchartrain Expressway together with his friends. To go along with the holiday hype, he put up a Christmas tree. Unfortunately, it was removed by city workers. But something miraculous happened that made him feel the holiday spirit again.
The homeless man’s name is John, and he’s been living under the expressway for almost a month. On one lucky day, he received a $100 from a driver he met. He decided to spare a part of the hundred bucks to buy some Christmas decorations for the place he and other homeless people call home.
The Christmas tree was set next to a blue tent (pictured above). Standing in a corner in the not-so-spacious area between Carondelet Street and St. Charles Avenue, the tree was decorated with a star and a skirt and was even complete with ornaments.
But Friday came, and it was time for the regular sweeps conducted by the city. As the workers were cleaning up the area, they took the Christmas tree put up by John, treating it as trash.
John shared, “It’s a Christmas tree, fully decorated. It ain’t past the 25th. Anybody with common sense would know it’s not trash. My purpose was to bring hope, restore hope and smiles.”
The homeless witnessed how a city truck roll through the area. They saw workers take the tree and even throw it in the back of the dumpster. One of the guys, Dave, said that he tried to save it, but it was taken back from him.
When asked why they did it, city workers said the tree was a code violation.
All that was left in John’s hands was one Christmas ball.
New Orleans–based station WDSU shared the story on their Facebook page, and it garnered negative reactions from netizens, with some accusing the city of stealing innocent people’s Christmas. The story has been shared more than 1,300 times.
Many people were touched by the story, but one of them went beyond just liking and sharing the post. Hammond City resident Butch Nutter drove to New Orleans to put up a Christmas tree for John and his little family.
Nutter said, “It just touched me. He spent his last little (bit of) money for a little Christmas tree for everybody, him and his little family. I just wanted to show him that there is good in this world.”
More people donated Christmas trees to the small homeless community. One of the donors, Kelly Caruso, said that the city should not consider the decoration as anything like a violation but as a representation that no matter what your social status is, you have all the right to celebrate Christmas.
She added, “We need to be New Orleanians and band together. With the city taking the tree, was a word I don’t use often—shameful. I don’t care what code violation it is, it’s the holidays. These people need everything that can uplift them as much as we can.”
Now John and his friends can stare at more than one Christmas tree, and the Christmas spirit can now be felt again in that small area in New Orleans.