Spruces are getting spruced up over the holidays in one part of Oak Park.

Trees in Southtown, at the intersection of Oak Park Avenue and the Eisenhower Expressway, are not only being decorated, they’re being outfitted. Members of the Oak Park Women’s Exchange, at 839 S. Oak Park Ave., have dressed almost 15 trees so far, according to Rhonda Harris, a member of the exchange.

Photos by FRANK PINC/Staff Photographer

The clothes are pieces the exchange members crocheted or knit, Harris says. The idea came from a member who saw a dressed-up tree in Ohio.

The arbor apparel here has a few different looks. One tree, in front of Nola’s Cup, is dressed as a jester, while another has a doll cinched to it.

The women’s exchange is a local cooperative started in 1974 for crafters to come together and support one another. Harris calls creations from this effort knit-knot trees and refers to the clothiers as fiber-graffiti artists.

“It’s kind of a movement,” she says. “We’re not destructive graffiti artists. We just make people smile.”

Harris says making the clothes is addictive. The decorating that started with the tree in front of the women’s exchange has spread to 14 trees in that area. The crafters involved are hoping to dress up every tree in Southtown. Harris says they want to petition the village to keep the dressings up year-round and that they’ll do so early next year.

They’re open to additions to the tree wardrobe.

“As the holiday season winds down, if people want to sit at home and make one, we’ll be more than happy to take it,” Harris said.

-Marty Stempniak

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