'Jeremi's Tree' sparkles with light this holiday season 

Friends decorate special tree with solar powered lights to remember Whistler cook

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - christmas reminder 400 lights glow for Jeremi Lindstrom.
  • Photo submitted
  • christmas reminder 400 lights glow for Jeremi Lindstrom.

A lone Christmas tree shines brightly above the Sea to Sky highway every evening for four hours — 400 white lights twinkling in the darkness.

They burn for Jeremi Lindstrom.

"Jeremi always said that that tree was just the perfect Christmas tree and that we should put lights on it," said his friend John Wallace.

Lindstrom, a former cook at the Westin Resort & Spa, died three and a half years ago at a hospice in Ontario on July 4. He was 29 years old.

This month, his friends in Whistler gathered with a mission. They had lights and cords, solar panels and two deep cycle batteries. And a plan to remember Jeremi, just in time for his birthday on Dec. 17.

It was a two-hour trek uphill to "Jeremi's Tree," breaking trail along the way. There had already been several scouting trips to assess the best way up.

"Everyone took a turn to carry the main box up," said Wallace of the 11-person job.

They set up a point as high up in the tree as they could go and then self-belayed from that point, swinging like a pendulum back and forth across the tree, stringing up the lights as they came down. It may sound easy... but it wasn't.

The next task was hooking up the solar powered system.

All the lights are low LED lights. Two solar panels power two batteries and a timer is set for the lights to come on around 6 p.m. and stay lit for a few hours.

Wallace said Lindstrom would have been stoked that it was all solar power.

The whole project cost $1,000 with friends from across the country pitching in to cover some costs.

"The first time we lit it up it was just gorgeous," said Wallace.

"It was just way better than I imagined it would turn out."

Lindstom lived in Whistler for about five years.

He had a core group of friends here, including close buddies from his hometown.

He loved to cook and he could rustle up anything from the fridge.

"But he always left the dishes everywhere!" said Wallace.

And then, one day in the spring of 2011 Lindstrom wasn't feeling well; he was having trouble breathing.

He went to see the doctor.


He stayed in Whistler for a few more weeks before returning home where he died three months later — before he turned 30, before he had seen that tree above the highway lit up with love.

"I've missed him ever since the day he was gone, but to light that up and see the support of people and to actually inspire some people... It was amazing, it was so amazing," said Wallace.

"Some nights I get off work, and I go down, and I just drive down and look at it."


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