— -- What started as a roadside weed growing out of a cone has blossomed into a community effort raising thousands for charity this Christmas.
The Cone Weed has become a sensation in Huntersville, North Carolina, after someone anonymously decorated the weed for the holidays.
The Huntersville Fire Department has been sending updates about the saga of the Cone Weed, which have gone viral on social media, as the holiday spirited plant continued to grow.
“Two weeks ago it was suddenly decorated in the spirit of Christmas. We’re calling it magic,” the fire department’s public information officer, Bill Suthard, told ABC News. “It was the magic of the season. It had Christmas lights on it, it had a timer to come on at 7:30 at night and would go off in the morning. It had ornaments.”
Once the community got wind of the festively decorated weed, he said, “It exploded.”
“Someone put a tree skirt around it, someone hung a ‘Merry Christmas’ sign around it, news networks were hanging their own ornaments on there and it became this fun thing,” said Suthard.
The weed has been growing since March after the specific spot it was growing on wasn’t mowed for months due to the cone blocking it.
“It started to die towards the end of the summer, and we may or may not have nursed it back to life,” Suthard said with a laugh. “Everybody in the community was already calling it Cone Weed. All the kids in the school buses going by had named it Cone Weed.”
Brian Blackmore, a local graphic designer, noticed the weed’s newfound holiday spirit on social media and made Cone Weed T-shirts for people to purchase.
“I thought I might sell 20 shirts. That was my goal, but this weed has rallied people around it,” Blackmore, who said he’s donating all proceeds to a charity, HopeMatch.org, told ABC News.
They’ve now sold more than 950 shirts and raised more than $14,000 for families in need during the holidays.
But yesterday, Cone Weed mysteriously went missing. After much investigation and ruckus on social media, Suthard found out the state Department of Transportation removed Cone Weed for being “so close to the road.”
“The state road crew that stole the cone, they’re all feeling pretty bad about it. They just didn’t know,” said Suthard. “They tracked it back to a DOT repair yard and brought it back. We got 100 percent of the decorations back, but the weed is now dead.”
Although the physical weed is now gone, Cone Weed will live on forever. The cone and decorations are proudly on display at the fire station to continue spreading Christmas cheer all season long.
“It’s overwhelming. It’s probably the best Christmas of my life,” Suthard told ABC News of the power Cone Weed has had on their community. “I’m being made fun of quite a bit in the fire service. They’re all calling me cone boy. But it’s worth it. I make sure they understand we’re raising money for over 100 families and then they don’t make fun of me anymore. It’s hitting everybody.”