Pier Christmas Tree Drama Ends With 'Our Own Little Manhattan Beach Miracle'Nov 20, 2022 11:13PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
The live Christmas trees - a beloved tradition and photo op at the pier lighting for the past 12 years - might not have happened this year if it hadn't been for a last-minute save by tree sponsor and owner of Palm Realty Boutique Brett Zebrowski (along with a few helper elves).
On Tuesday evening, November 15, city staff members informed Jill Lamkin, executive director of the Downtown Manhattan Beach Business and Professionals Association, that the usual tree supplier had not come through as planned.
Lamkin then called Zebrowski, who has sponsored the live trees for the past five years in honor of his late brother Scott, and told him that it looked like there would not be any trees this year.
But Zebrowski "was having none of that," according to Lamkin.
Phone Calls, Persistence, and a 'Hollywood Ending'
Zebrowski said he needed at least 40 trees, so LaGumina checked in and then replied back with a photo of rows of perfectly pristine 6-foot cypress trees - and there were exactly 40 of them on the lot.
LaGumina, who at this point was "swept up in the energy," headed over to Target, where he found large canvas bags reading "Christmas Delivery" to put at the base of the trees.
How many bags were there in stock? Exactly 40.
"Everyone had to work together to get it done. And we somehow pulled it off. And when I saw photos of them unloading the trucks. I was joking about it, but I kept hearing in my head the song from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" where everyone is holding hands around the tree and singing," said Zebrowski.
"This was like a Hollywood, Disney, feel-good, Miracle on 34th Street ending," he added. "We couldn’t have scripted it better. Every single thing just fell in line, and it was beautiful."
A New Tradition Unfolds
The previous live tree supplier had always rented out the trees and then taken them back a week later. But this year, now that the trees have been purchased, the options are wide open, said Zebrowski.
First, Zebrowski is looking into whether the trees will hold up long enough to stay on the pier until the night of the Manhattan Beach Fireworks on December 11.
After that, he said, he is considering selling the trees with all proceeds going to St. Jude's Children's Hospital.
"I'll bet a lot of people from Manhattan Beach would want a little piece of Christmas from the Manhattan Beach Pier," he added.
And in the future, since he plans to continue purchasing trees rather than renting them, he envisions all sorts of possibilities for community events. For example, he said, local groups could "adopt" a tree and decorate it for a decorating contest.
Zebrowski said that it is always a treat for him to see people enjoying and taking photos with the trees at the pier lighting event, but it was especially poignant this year.
"Having the actual live trees - There's just something about it. It makes you feel like going back to being a child at Christmas," he said.
Remembering his brother, he added, "It's a chance to feel closer to him."