'Treasure tree' falls in windstorm, devastating neighborhood

SEATTLE -- Sprawled across East Prospect Street, a downed tree is devastating the neighborhood but not because it caused any damage.

"No, poor treasure tree!" a neighbor exclaimed as she came across the tree. Other neighbors gathered around to look at the loss.

Tuesday's windstorm had uprooted the tree, which landed perfectly in the street, missing any possible targets.

"I heard a big gust of wind and the house shook and I looked outside and the tree had fallen," said Marlow Harris, the tree's current owner. "Luckily, it didn't hurt anyone, didn't hit any cars or people."

But it hit the hearts of the community's youngest residents. A young boy named Lucas who walked by the tree said he was too sad to talk about it.

The neighborhood's loss had this effect because this was no ordinary tree.

"It is a tree that used to have a little thing that people, like, if they had an old toy they would put it in there and people would pick up the toys," Octavian Fetzstallings explained. He walked by the downed tree with his mom after she picked him up from school. "That's why they called it a treasure tree, because there's little treasures."

"My kids started it about 15 years ago," Harris said. "They made, like, a little circle out of bricks and threw their old toys in there and a little sign, 'take a treasure.' They're old now but we just kept it up all these years and all the kids liked it in the neighborhood."

The tree was about more than just giving gifts. It was tradition.

"Anytime we're within a couple of blocks of this tree, if you're with little children they're going to ask if you can stop at the treasure tree,"  said Krista Hartrich, Lucas' mom.

It's a neighborhood staple turned to sawdust.

"So it's kind of sad to lose but we can do it under another tree ," Harris said.