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Return of the Bead Tree Tradition

Friday, February 14, 2020

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Dear Tulane Community:

Over the years, Tulane students, and indeed Tulanians of all ages, have tested their skill, and hoped for luck, as they added their carnival throws to what became known as the Bead Tree. The tree offered a perfect photo-op for students, faculty, staff, parents and alumni. Social media is filled with photos of newly arrived students tossing their first beads onto the tree. I know how they felt. I visited the Bead Tree on my first trip to campus and fell in love with it immediately – and added my own throw to its collection, as well.

Sadly, last spring, the iconic Bead Tree had to be removed after sustaining damage from lightning and termites that put it in imminent danger of falling. This removal made news nationally and broke our hearts locally. But, just in time for Mardi Gras, this Tulane tradition is about to be reborn!

Knowing that the Bead Tree could never actually be replaced, we have instead decided to both memorialize and perpetuate the good times and tradition it represents by installing, near the original space it occupied, three 21-foot steel "trees," known as the Bead Three. Designed by Irene Keil, a professor in our School of Architecture, and fabricated by local designer David Gregor, Bead Three will allow one of our cherished traditions to continue while not impacting any live tree on campus. This installation will also include a series of clear rods from which light will emanate at night. Bead Three will be ever-changing, too, as the Tulane community and campus visitors continue to contribute to this interactive installation.
 
On Tuesday, I will join student leaders for a ceremonial “beading” of the first of the Bead Three to be installed. I look forward to seeing the contributions you will add as you return from next weeks’ parades. Years from now, you will be able to say you were there at the rebirth of a great Tulane tradition.

Signature of Mike Fitts