OATMAN — Decorating creosote bushes for Christmas along Historic Route 66 outside Oatman is a long-standing tradition.
Though the Oatman Chamber of Commerce shrub-decorating contest took place the weekend after Thanksgiving, locals and visitors alike are still making the trip to create festive displays along the old highway and view the work already done.
“I grew up in Parker,” said Darci Hansen. “I live in St. George, Utah, now, but I have a second home in Bullhead City and a deep appreciation for the area. I love this Oatman tradition.”
Joining dozens of others in choosing and decorating a shrub, Hansen, along with her friend Carmen Snow, made the trip to Oatman in order to festoon a shrub in honor of Snow’s sister. Connie Jenkins died in October.
“When Darci told me about the tradition, I knew we had to do it for Connie,” Snow said. “We love history and old customs and especially tradition that is a little off the beaten path.”
Originally the creosote bushes were decorated west of Laughlin, along a dirt road in the mountains called Christmas Tree Pass. No one knows who started the tradition of decorating junipers and pinion pines along the road, but it ended when Clark County cleaned out the area and called a halt to the practice.
The Oatman Chamber decided to bring the tradition to Historic Route 66, designating the area from the junction at Boundary Cone Road to town as part of the display, and each year offers a contest open to individuals, families, businesses and nonprofits. The contest organizers request no tinsel or glass ornaments be used.
“Connie would have loved this, too,” Snow said. “We brought a box of Cheerios so her family will know it is for her, as well as a monogrammed ornament.”
The women also used red rocks to create the letter C at the base of the shrub.
“It’s such a great tradition,” Hansen said. “Everyone should make the trip to come see it.”
The holiday decorations will remain on display along the highway through January.