ST. LOUIS — A beloved tree in Tower Grove Park is set to come down due to old age and decay throughout its trunk.

A gathering of south St. Louisans spent the day honoring the life of the old catalpa tree on Thursday. Arborists for Tower Grove Park have explored all possible options, according to a social media post this week. But the beloved “Keebler Elf Tree” will have to be removed.

“This tree has really captured the love and imagination of the community as well as everyone at the park,” says Beth Casagrand, the director of community programs at Tower Grove Park.  “It’s a beautiful tree often compared to different trees in fantasy movies like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.  A lot of people have a name for this tree, whether they call it the Keebler Elf Tree or the Troll Tree, it’s definitely one that the community has really come together around their love of this tree.”   

Tower Grove Park officials announced on social media Tuesday that the tree is decaying and cannot be saved. The “Keebler Elf Tree” or “Troll Tree,” as it’s been nicknamed is a northern catalpa that has sat just southeast of the Turkish pavilion for a long time. 

Vincent Walker remembers the tree, working in Tower Grove Park for 30 years. 

“I would bring my son here and play on the tree,” said Vincent J. Walker, stopping in the shade.  “We had a security guy, Jack. He worked there, and he didn’t mind. I could put him on the tree, and he wouldn’t say something, he’d let him play on the tree.” 

“This tree has great memories for me because we would get ice cream from the ice cream man,” Walker added.  “Right over there, where the low branch is, we used to bounce up and down. It was just a great time. I’m going to miss the tree.”

The catalpa tree is expected to be taken down sometime this summer. Its memory will live on in the artwork and pictures made here today