Magic Trees volunteers aim to brighten up North Adams for those with Seasonal Affective Disorder


NORTH ADAMS — There is a local effort afoot to brighten the holidays and lighten some moods by transforming trees into colorful ornamental features dotting the urban landscape.

The Magic Trees volunteer effort is being spearheaded by AnnaMarie Sebastino, who said the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can be relieved by exposure to certain colors and lights.

She noted that the lengthy nights, inclement weather and the pressures of the holidays can combine to accentuate emotionally depressive tendencies.

"When winter comes on, suddenly we have this very gray, barren landscape," she said. "So I wondered, what if we could wrap the trees and paint the wrapping in bright colors?"

She enlisted the help of Art About Town to fund the materials, and Louison House Executive Director Kathleen Keeser came on board as well.

"From there the idea blossomed," Sebastino said.

"Adding color to your surroundings can make a big difference," Keeser added.

A couple of local homeowners started the ball rolling as sort of test cases. They wrapped a tree in material made to protect the bark, then painted the wrapping while adding images and colors of their choosing. One homeowner added lighting to the creation.

Then on Monday, Sebastino, Keeser and nearly a dozen residents of Louison House used four trees in front of the homeless shelter to showcase the Magic Trees movement. The colors selected for the trees were also significant: Red for identify, green for negotiate, yellow for self-purity and blue for action. They are the themes for Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

Keeser noted that the effort will continue on MLK Day, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018.

She said the newly decorated trees will highlight the Victorian house and property serving as Louison House on Church Street.

"The bright colors could help out folks and help to brighten up the neighborhood."

Sebastino said that for $20, basically the cost of materials, anyone can sponsor a tree. The details can be found at

Louison House is dedicated to reducing homeless in Berkshire County. Keeser said it averages about 20 residents in the transition shelter and offers a range of supportive services. It has served more than 3,000 people since opening in 1990.

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