Workers save the Irma-damaged Wish Tree at Dali Museum

The Dali Museum recovers the 'Wish Tree' after Irma

St. Petersburg, FL -- Call it a metaphor, but in downtown Saint Pete Tuesday, there was a real sign of things getting back to normal after Hurricane Irma.

Workers helped upright a massive tree in front of the Dali museum. Restoring, not just the ficus itself, but the wishes that come with it.

The giant 30' ficus tree, ironically planted here after it was knocked down by a 2010 storm in South Florida, has become a landmark at the museum. Its branches, decorated with the museum's colorful admission wristbands. 

“For our visitors, it's very meaningful. People come here from all over the world and after their visit, they write wishes for themselves or for the world their family, for health and happiness,” said the museum’s Chelsey Kamen.

Since the tree was relocated here, it had actually been toppled and up-righted three more times by other storms. Irma was number four. 

Using a huge crane, cables, and thick straps, workers were able to slowly lift the wish tee back into place.

Its roots, they say, still appeared to be in good shape.

“Everything looks healthy. Obviously, you've got a little bit of damage but we trimmed it,” said Dave Portilia, working to upright the tree, “We've got it thinned out a little bit. We got it treated and fertilized and we'll see what we see.”

People who stood and watched the operation, seemed genuinely inspired by it.

“People at least try to make things better. And if something like that helps, that's good. It makes them feel better,” said Dan Deuel, visiting the museum Monday.

“It is great to see the tree back. And I'm glad it's back,” said Nicole Matwijczyk, a horticulturist with the Dali. “We will take good care of it now that it's vertical again.”

The Dali says it will also be putting new measures in place this time, to try to better secure the tree in future storms.

And so, much like the Bay Area, a little beaten, a little bruised. Knocked over, but not for long, the wish tree at the Dali Museum is back to itself.

Strong roots, have a way of making it difficult to keep a good tree, or for that matter, a good region and its people, down for very long.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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