By Luke Lavoie, email@example.com
1:16 AM EST, November 14, 2012
Construction has begun on the iconic holiday poinsettia tree that stands at center court in the Mall in Columbia.
The 20-plus-foot holiday tree, a staple at the Mall in Columbia since 1971, is expected to be finished by Thursday, according to mall Marketing Manager Michelle Jose.
"It is really the center of our holiday decor," Jose said, standing in front of the tree's metal frame inside the Mall on Monday morning. "It means that the holiday season is here."
Jose said the tree is made up of over 800 live poinsettias, which are kept alive by a complex irrigation system that takes two or three days to set up.
The 800 live poinsettias are scheduled to arrive at 6 a.m. on Thursday morning, Jose said, and will be installed throughout the day.
Jose, who called the tree one of the mall community's most cherished holiday tradition, added that, for the second year, a photo booth has been constructed allowing patrons to use the tree as the backdrop for holiday photos.
In 2007, the mall owner, General Growth Properties, attempted to replace the tree with a display called "Santastic." However, due to resident protest, the tree was reinstated the following year.
Jose said the mall is happy to continue the tradition, which is so important to residents.
"This was a deep-rooted tradition for the community, and the mall is happy to continue hosting this longstanding tradition," Jose said.