Festival of Trees organizers respond after local artist designs tree featuring President Trump

Published: Nov. 19, 2019 at 7:28 PM CST
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A viral photo on Facebook is sparking some controversy in the Quad Cities.

A local woman designed a tree for QC Festival of Trees, but organizers have a problem with some of the decorations.

The photo, seen circulating on Facebook, shows a red tree decorated with American flags and flags dedicated to first responders, along with ornaments honoring the military, but it also has a political aspect to it and organizers say that is not allowed.

Standing beside the tree is a life-sized cardboard cutout of President Trump, and on the tree are "Trump 2020" flags.

TV6 received inquiries about the post and whether the design disobeyed any rules of the Festival of Trees.

We spoke with Quad City Arts Executive Director, Kevin Maynard, who says the issue has nothing to do with the candidate or the party, but he says rather the event is about celebrating the festival, not politics.

Maynard explains, "We do not allow candidates or politician designs into the design elements at festival. We live in the great state of Iowa and we're able to see candidates all the time. We know that we also have people that are very passionate about their candidates but we also think that the Festival should be free of that and also gives everybody an opportunity to take a break from the politicians."

The organization issued a statement on their Facebook page Tuesday afternoon, which you can read, below.

To enter, designers have to fill out a form, which explains their idea for the tree or product they'll design.

Maynard showed us the submission form from the designer of this particular tree. The submission said the name of the tree would be "Keep Christmas Great" and would include "books, coffee train set, toy (1st responder themed - fire truck police car, etc."

Maynard also pointed out the festival of trees can reject any design that does not align with their mission.

On the festival's website, a statement reads, "Quad City Arts reserves the right to reject any designs that do not align with our mission. This may include, but is not limited to: any violent or harmful messages or imagery, commercial promotional items, and political statements of any kind."

The festival's organizers did not ask the woman to take the entire tree down, but have asked that any political signs or candidates be removed if she wants to display it during the festival.

Additionally, the design manual issued to designers says, "Please remember that NO COMPANY/ORGANIZATION LOGOS are allowed on or under the tree or in the rooms."

TV6 reached out to the woman who designed the tree, but she did not have a comment.

The designer of this tree won first place in one of the categories last year, and received a special honor the year before.

Maynard says moving forward they will work to make the message that politics are not allowed more clear.

The Festival of Trees is a fundraiser for Quad City Arts, which is dedicated to enriching the quality of life in the Quad Cities through the arts.

The festival runs from November 23 to December 1.