BLOOMINGTON (WCCO) — It’s likely more people have seen a big, bright tree in Bloomington more than any other.
The tree stands 55 feet tall on East Old Shakopee Road and Highway 77, just south of the Mall of America. There are nearly 40,000 holiday lights on it, but it holds a special meaning for one Minnesota family.
In this season of sharing, Bob and Julie Little might have found the greatest gift of all — a white oak beaming bright in their yard that they have been lighting up for the holidays for nearly a decade.
This year, it took three weeks to take down the old lights, and another three weeks to replace them with new, LED lights.
The tree is tops with travelers — from those flying through the air above it from the nearby Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport, to those driving down Highway 77 where more than 50,000 people get a glimpse of it daily.
“It seems like it just makes your heart lift a little bit, to see people celebrating the season,” said Ray Meyer, who stopped to see tree.
Hundreds of strangers have sent Bob and Julie Little cards, but there’s one that really stands out.
“To send a letter to us on the joy we brought her mother, what more could you ever ask? It was very special,” said Julie Little.
Kathleen Randall wrote that she and her mother Gladys had made multiple trips to the tree, but unexpectedly, those visits stopped when her mom had died.
“It went on to say ‘I just wanted to thank you for making mom happy in her last days,” said Bob Little.
Way up high on top of the tree, Bob attached a name-plate with Glady’s name and her relative, Jaci, who died too.
“Mom and Jaci are in heaven, and that gives us peace knowing that they can look down from heaven and see it,” said Randall.
“(That letter) made our Christmas,” said Bob Little.
It’s that story and hundreds more that tell Bob and Julie Little that they’re doing a lot of good work and they’ll keep doing it.
“It’ll be here as long as we are,” said Bob Little.
And the bulbs on the tree aren’t about to burn out anytime soon, there are nearly 500 strings on the tree.
WCCO-TV’s James Schugel Reports