On December 24, someone erected a Christmas tree on the sand at Cardiff State Beach. On the sunny Christmas Day, hundreds of people stopped by to have their picture taken next to the tree, with the sand, waves, blue sky, and surfers in the background. A couple on bicyclists said they stopped to take a photo to send to their relatives back East.
A small sign posted next to the tree told the story of the “Tree by the Sea.” Apparently, a Christmas tree has been anonymously placed for almost two decades. The sign told of the one year, eight years ago, when there was no tree, and no one knew why. Not willing to let a tradition die, "a lifelong Cardiff by the Sea family took on the privilege of placing the tree each Christmas Eve for all to enjoy,” the sign read.
The sign acknowledges Cardiff’s Maldonado Farm for the tree donation (but they have no involvement in placing the tree) and thanks the state-park crew that disposes of it usually after New Year’s Day, if it stays up that long. One passerby said that several years ago the tree was taken out with an unusually high tide. Another person said one year vandals tried to light it on fire during the night. Early-morning beachgoers took it out of the trashcan and replaced it on the shore.
Everyone was invited to add their own decorations to the tree, which already had traditional ornaments. By midday on Christmas, the tree held a pair of pink flip-flops, surf wax, shells, and strings of dried seaweed.