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Sherman Library & Gardens tree holds about 4,000 wishes for 2021

A woman looks at a holiday message hanging from the wishing tree at Sherman Library & Gardens.
Some of the thousands of messages on the Sherman Library & Gardens wishing tree this holiday season in Corona del Mar. This year the annual tradition had many more messages due to the pandemic and related issues.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Some of Orange County’s hopes and desires are hanging inside of a 2-acre beachside patch of greenery in Corona del Mar for all to see.

Sherman Library & Gardens set up its annual Wishing Tree, and members of the public — about 4,000 of them — have responded, providing a unique snapshot of the times.

What are people wishing for in 2021?

There are an overwhelming amount of wishes for the coronavirus pandemic to end, a vaccine to become available and for the nation to come together.

The Wishing Tree in Sherman Gardens started seven years ago along with its Nights of 1,000 Lights holiday event. At first, staff used a small Japanese maple tree, but as the wishes piled up they expanded to hang on nearly every branch visitors could find. Two years ago, the set-up was moved to one of the oldest trees in the garden — a California pepper tree.

“In the beginning, we really wanted it to be a family tradition for people in Orange County,” said Scott LaFleur, executive director of Sherman Library & Gardens. “The Wishing Tree is something that’s been around for generations and a part of many cultures. It’s a neat way for people to put their thoughts, hopes and desires on a piece of paper to get it off their chest or out of their hearts for the whole world to see.”

One of over a thousand messages on the Sherman Library & Gardens wishing tree this holiday season.
One of over a thousand messages on the Sherman Library & Gardens wishing tree this holiday season.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The Wishing Tree will be available to visitors through Lunar New Year celebrations or until Feb. 26.

LaFleur said although less people attended their Nights of 1,000 Lights event than previous years, the tree is still full of wishes.

He added the Sherman Library & Gardens felt the burden and cuts of most nonprofits during the pandemic, especially since most of its income came from wedding events, rentals and the on-site restaurant (which has opened and closed multiple times throughout last year). But LaFleur also maintains that the garden has a sustainable future.

The most recent hire includes the gardens’ first education director, Catherine Dickinson, and they are looking to hire a program educator to start offering additional classes open to children as well as anyone who would like to learn about Pacific Southwest history, horticulture and arts. Classes, in-person and limited in size, are available focusing on floral design and gardening.

The garden has remained open for admission following strict COVID-19 protocols such as wearing face masks, maintaining social distance and requiring hand sanitizing upon entry.

“If people need a place to get some mental well being or take a break from the news and everything else that’s going on, we welcome them to come and feel safe,” LaFleur said. “We look forward to supporting them throughout the year until we get everything back to normal.”

If you go

What: Sherman Library & Garden’s Wishing Tree
When: 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through Feb. 26
Where: 2647 East Coast Highway, Corona del Mar
Cost: $5 for nonmembers, free for members
Info: thesherman.org/visit/

Colorful messages adorn the Sherman Library & Gardens wishing tree.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

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