‘Mucksie’ is Glades’ answer to ‘Sandi’

Belle Glade — This holiday season, for the first time, the Glades has its own version of West Palm Beach’s acclaimed “Sandi the Sand Christmas Tree.” While it’s a far cry from behemoth Sandi’s 600 tons of sand, “Mucksie the Black Gold Christmas tree” was created out of the same love for the loam that makes up the local landscape as was Sandi. (see  photo below)
Professional artist and musician Lester Finney, who was born and raised in Belle Glade, has built what he hopes will become a Christmas tradition on Palm Beach County’s other coast.

Beginning shortly before Thanksgiving, he began constructing Mucksie in his front yard by a process of trial and error that he’s been thinking about and researching for years — nearly the whole time that Sandi’s been a nationally known star of the season (since 2011).

Mucksie at night. See daytime photo below.

“I’ve had the idea for years, because I’ve always been thinking out of the box, but when West Palm Beach beat me doing it with Sandi the Sand Tree, I said, ‘Awww, man, well, I GOT to do it now so I can show ’em!’ That’s when I got started,” he related. “So I had to go through a series of experimentation to make sure that the muck stayed together, and I read through a couple of things and, once I knew I had it, I sent it through a series of tests, you know, squirting a water hose on it to see if that would knock it down.”

This year he was under way in earnest on Mucksie at his home, 1400 N.W. Ave. G, when a turn in the weather provided a perfect test.

Earlier this month “when it rained and the wind came and it got cold,” explained Mr. Finney, “oh, I was overjoyed because that was sending it through the final test! So once it went through the final test, I put another layer of muck on it, with a special old family secret mixture …” (just saying that set him off into a spasm of laughter that was infectious even over a telephone line), “and then my wife and I decorated it.”

Asked to estimate its size, he said he used 500 to 600 pounds of muck soil, with the “tree” standing about 10 feet tall on top of a small pile of rocks and a base radius of approximately 4 feet. “We just decorated with lights and stuff on Monday (Dec. 18),” he said. “We’ll leave it up until after New Year’s.”

There were muck construction difficulties, though. Although Mr. Finney said he “probably didn’t need the frame,” he built one anyway out of 2-by-1s and chicken wire. “Now, what I will do next year, I will make sure that the inside is wet with my solution. The inside is dry, and that’s one of the problems that I encountered. Some things, the problems I ran into this time, I will eliminate them the next time that I do it,” he explained.

People have been driving by constantly in the past couple of weeks, Mr. Finney said, “taking selfies with it, and it’s all over Facebook now.

“It’s causing a lot of Christmas cheer around the community. The people riding by, people stopping, they get out and take pictures, but they were careful not to walk in my yard and stuff and that was cool. Next year, I will put a canvas up so they won’t see my house or my car, they’ll just see my tree and the background that’s around it,” he said.

“I’m just sayin’, I’m on top of the world now. I love the muck.”

Mucksie, the Black Gold Christmas tree was created by Belle Glade artist Lester Finney, who lives at 1400 N.W. Ave G. Photo courtesy Lester Finney.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment