Time to clean up the Christmas trees on Loop 360

It's an Austin tradition: taking the family and turning the cedar trees on Loop 360 into Christmas trees. But the tradition isn't universally loved because sometimes those who decorate don't come back to clean it up after the holidays.

Loop 360 is a TXDOT road and TXDOT says "no" they really don't want people doing this but if they are going to decorate the trees, please come back to clean it up.

Some people do the right thing. FOX 7 saw several families Monday afternoon picking up their decorations and actually many trees were cleaned up over the weekend from the looks of it.

Julia Fortman has been living in Austin for 22 years and used to love this tradition -- that is until she participated in a roadside cleanup effort several years ago right after the New Year and that changed her opinion.

She points out the slogan "Keep Austin Weird" is meant to promote local business and says most of these decorations are from big box stores and they make a big mess that can't quite be cleaned up no matter how hard you try.

"Most people are using indoor decorations which can't withstand the elements, even the sun.  The tinsel shatters, there's ornaments that scatter, there's things that decompose and it was just impossible to pick everything up.  It just changed my view of this whole tradition," Fortman said.  "I would love to see it evolve in a way that everyone can enjoy it.  So either everyone comes back to clean it up and is responsible or that we evolve it into something new and different."

One idea Fortman has: if you really want to decorate an outdoor tree for Christmas, she suggests doing something in your own backyard or at a park, not on 360 -- something like a "treat tree" with small treats appropriate and safe for local wildlife.

As far as the still-decorated trees on 360, "Keep Austin Beautiful" will be out this Saturday to help finish the job.  All of the collected decorations will be donated.

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