Fort Myers woman marries 100-year-old tree to protest development

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“We had cake, we had flowers, I mean…it was fun,” said Karen Cooper of her recent wedding.

However, Cooper’s wedding was a little different than your average one.

Cooper held a ceremony Saturday to marry a 100-year-old Ficus tree in Snell Family Park. Last year, the city began discussing cutting the tree down to make way for a new home to be built on the land.

And on Tuesday, the council will make a decision on whether or not to remove it.

“I told other people if they cut this tree down, then I’m going to be a widow,” Cooper said.

They didn’t exchange rings, because the tree already has its own, but what was important were the vows.

“Vowing to protect and preserve and celebrate this tree,” Cooper said.

Like many in her neighborhood, Cooper was worried the development on that piece of land would impact the community.

“What would be better is if the city buys the lot and make the whole thing a park,” she said.

The man who wants to build the home claims he never wanted the tree to be cut down.

The city of Fort Myers said this in response:

“The city is moving forward to save the Snell Park Ficus tree. Every day city employees care for the trees and plants that give our city a sense of community and shared history.”

“I’ve never spoke to anyone that has no opinion about it,” said Fort Myers resident Dewey Sanders. “I think everyone feels that the tree should stay.”

On Tuesday, neighbors will try to get to the root of the matter.

“I’m not a whack job,” Cooper said. “I need people to come to that meeting tomorrow, and if I have to marry a tree to do so then I will.”

In December, the city’s public works department approved the tree’s removal. And in February, the board discussed spending $13,000 to cut down the tree and replace it with smaller ones.

But as they said in their statement, the city now appears to be in favor of saving it.

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