A newspaper-stuffed pumpkin-headed man with a sign reading “I love trees” failed to deter workers from cutting one down last Thursday on the corner of Camino Pescadero and Sabado Tarde Road.
Dubbed “Chad Umpkin” by residents, the dummy sat perched in the tree, but has since been relegated to a lawn chair.
Under contract by Santa Barbara County, workmen used chainsaws and a shredder to remove the tree in order to make way for a handicapped-accessible sidewalk, leaving residents of the now shadeless corner melancholy.
“It was definitely sentimental; I’ve lived here for three years,” said Sean Rorden, a resident of the corner house on the 6600 block of Sabado Tarde and a UCSB senior communication major. “It’s totally different now. It’s a lot brighter.”
An unidentified worker said the felled tree will be replaced with an Australian Christmas tree.
Rorden said he received notice from his landlord that the tree would be removed two weeks prior to the tree being cut down. He said notices were posted on the street two days prior.
John Irwin, another resident of the house and a third-year business economics major at UCSB, said the tree gave the yard and street a much more rural feel, which is now gone.
“Without [the tree], it seems like more of a city block,” Irwin said.
When the workmen came to cut down the tree, Irwin said they removed Umpkin and his “I love trees” sign, but re-hung the sign on the shredder as they ground the tree into mulch.
“It was funny in an ironic way,” Irwin said. “I mean, I laughed while saying ‘this sucks.'”
Several residents two doors down from the corner where the tree used to stand said they considered sitting in the tree to protest its removal, but decided against the idea because they were worried they would be arrested.
Brittany Gonzales and Courtney Scarborough, both second-year biology majors at UCSB, said they miss the tree. They said the hole it leaves on the block is difficult to get used to.
“It’s sad to me because trees are so hard to replace,” Gonzales said. ” It takes so long for them to grow as large as this one was.”
Scarborough said the tree’s removal upset her so much it was all she could think about during her classes the day it was cut down.
“It’s good that they’re putting something back in,” Gonzales said. “But it’s like if there was someone who was killing people, it’s OK because he’s having babies.”