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Community Disappointed After Christmas Tree Is Apparently Mowed Down By Vehicle In Washington Park

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Christmas is just days away, but one woman in Washington Park said her community was robbed of the Christmas spirit.

CBS 2's Marissa Parra reported Saturday on how the loss of something so small meant so much.

Donna Hampton-Smith's vision was a Washington Park filled with Christmas spirit. Wreaths, ribbons, and evergreen garland adorn lamp posts in the area of Garfield Boulevard and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

And when Hampton-Smith saw her vision of the park's first Christmas tree, she was filled with hope.

"People would stop and say: 'Thank you. Thank you for doing this for our community, because this has never happened,'" she said.

But that hope was quickly crushed.

"The tree is on the ground," Hampton-Smith said. "The branches are broken."

Just one week until Christmas Day itself, the Christmas tree is wrecked.

"Ornaments on the ground. Car pieces everywhere," Hampton-Smith said. "It's just horrible. It's terrible. It looks really bad, and we're really sad about this."

Hampton-Smith and her chamber of commerce colleagues had raised funds since the summer to put the tree up. They are still puzzled by what happened.

"It's hard to piece together, because you see the track marks there, but I think after it lost control, I think it skids and hit into the Christmas tree," Hampton Smith said. "It's a mystery, yes it is."

But regardless of how it happened, Hampton-Smith said it's the principle of it. To her, it isn't just a tree.

It was a symbol for a neighborhood that often feels left out and forgotten.

"It's lights that we don't see – the positive lights; Christmas tree lights," Hampton-Smith said. "Police sirens, that's what we see."

There was a solid effort to get the tree back on its feet.

"A lot of people really tried to help to put the tree back together again," Hampton-Smith said. "We had innocent bystanders that actually were out here trying to salvage the tree."

But she said the base is broken beyond a simple fix, and time is running out.

"Days away from Christmas, and of course, now we don't have a tree," Hampton-Smith said.

The Washington Park Chamber of Commerce is working to find a solution, but they welcome donations to help get a tree back up in time for Christmas.

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