Head down Wayne Palmer’s street in southwest Calgary and you’re in for a surprise this Stampede.
“Look at the cool cowboys!” Christina Edgar pointed out to her 8-year-old daughter Rhyannah. “Wayne’s cool decorations.”
His neighbours never know what they’ll see in what’s left of the old poplar tree in Palmer’s front yard.
He just finished carving cowboy faces on the stumps and outfitting them with hats for Stampede.
This follows the ghost figures he created up in the tree last Halloween, followed by snowmen for Christmas, and then bunnies at Easter.
Palmer’s wife Denise said, “every season there’s something new. We never know what he’s coming up with”.
The fun in the tree started 40 years ago, when Palmer built a treehouse for his kids.
But after 2014’s huge September snowstorm that damaged thousands of trees throughout Calgary, most of the tree had to come down.
Now Palmer’s “stump surprises” help his neighbours get into the spirit of special occasions.
“He outdoes himself every season,” Kelly Shoults said. “I miss the old treehouse,” he told Palmer, “but it’s nice you kept something alive up there.”
Joseph Strembiski agreed the cowboys brighten up the street. “It definitely brings out a huge Stampede vibe.”
And Maral Bannayan summed up the feelings of many in the neighbourhood: “It shows pride of the Stampede. It shows pride of Calgary.”