PORTLAND – Some people wished for love, some for world peace, a lot of people wished for a pony.
Those are just a few of the hundreds of wishes hanging from a Horse Chestnut street tree at the corner of Northeast Morris Street and 7th Avenue.
On a cold Tuesday evening, a young couple walking down the block stopped and examined the tree with bemused interest. A sign, clipboard, marker and plastic bag of manila shipping labels beckoned for them to contribute their own desires.
The Wishing Tree, has been an oddity at this intersection since last fall. A photo of it recently sparked a trending post on the Portland Reddit page Monday, garnering the kind of cheers and jeers that one would expect from something so quintessentially Portlandia.
The tree is the handy work of Nicole Helprin and sits directly in front of her 1926 Irvington home.
Helprin, a mother of two who works at Hewlett-Packard in Vancouver, said she got the idea from a San Francisco-based blog Superhero Journal back in November. Helprin put a few tags on the tree before she left town for the weekend and when she returned it was festooned with local hopes and dreams.
Photos: Portland's Wishing Tree
Some of Helprin’s favorites: I wish hobos could ‘git’ some food, I wish there were more trees like this, I wish my mother wasn’t so tight with the Xbox.
“I have a seven year old,” said Helprin. “I can relate to that.”
On a Wednesday morning as she removed an elaborate, if off-topic, origami mobile from the tree, Helprin remarked that it doesn’t take much maintenance.
“I think I’ll put this in the kids’ room and hang a thank you note,” she said.
In the past, Helprin has taken down tags, washed and rehung them. But mostly, the wishes just decay, or blow off the tree on their own.
“It's more about putting it up there than preserving it,” Helprin said.
Her husband Ted said the little tags often blow around the neighborhood.
“There’s a kind of a diaspora of wishes blowing around the neighborhood,” he said with a smile.
So far no one has complained.
No one’s ever told Helprin that their wish has come true, either. But for her, the tree is less about fulfilling or preserving wishes and more about giving the community (perhaps mostly children) an enchanting moment to share.
“I wish it continues to bring happiness to the neighborhood,” Helprin said.