High hopes at the Dalì Museum's Wish Tree

Tampa Bay's most famous ficus is an ideal spot to make a wish for 2018.

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You wish, they wish…

We've shared our readers’ personal bests and worsts for 2017; now we look ahead. Here are some of the same readers’ wishes for the new year, along with a post-Irma sampling of wishes (shown in italics) from the Dalì’s Wish Tree. —DW

Frank Strunk III, artist: My wish for 2018 is that people continue to gain clarity regarding politics, class, religion and big business and how they weave the fabric of our culture and who benefits most from their rampant self-interest. Hint: It ain’t us.

WT: I wish for an indomitable spirit like Salvador Dali!

Lorenza Bruno, ESL teacher: Learn about the Chinese culture, make new friends while staying connected to the ones here, and that my son becomes bilingual!”

Dan Liedtke, Gulfport councilperson: Kellyanne Conway lands a job in the private sector and North Korea stops pissing off the world.

WT: Food Trucks on every corner!

WT: My dream career at Vogue!

Nikki Graham: That I find the balls and strength to make some huge changes.

Rita Webb:  More life living with friends. Seeing people in real life over FaceSpace. For sure.

Shannon Kelly, entrepreneur: My wish for myself in 2018 is to become financially stable. (After my failed business in 2015, I’ve definitely been picking up the pieces.) I want a yard for my dog to run and play in. I want a place that’s mine. I’d love the resources to travel to see family and ability to host guests. I want to kick 2018’s ass!

Melissa Turkel: Become a first-time homeowner.

WT: I wish that one day I can be open and honest with myself and others! 

Chris Madalena, CL business development director: Probably read more (and not the internet); for 2018 in general, less hate. 

Gina Moccio, Boss Babe Club: I hope to continue adjusting to my new life as a small business owner & learn as much as I can from my members and friends who struck it out on their own.

Will Kuncz, 102.5 THE BONE: People go back to posting pics of their food and babies on social media and not their political opinions.

Lindsay Cross, Florida Wildlife Corridor: A healthy baby girl for my brother and his wife. I’m excited to be an aunt!

WT: For my mom to find happiness again.

WT: We got engaged!!!

WT: I wish that I don’t have Alzheimer’s.

Lucinda Johnston, Chart 411: My biggest wish for 2018 is to flip the house and senate.

Nora Reavis, PwC: Amen!

Rebecca Falkenberry, Brownell Travel: What Lucinda Johnston said — totally agree.

Alice Shaw Carter, entrepreneur: I hope 2018 brings new hope for this country by electing some new people to Congress and that some existing members of Congress will voluntarily retire to make way for new blood.

Donna Stern Gilbert, retired: A Pollyanna hope to have Trump replaced with Obama!!

Anastasia C. Hiotis, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt: Another healthy year and impeachment proceedings!

Terri Dahl Thomas, artist: Wishing for Impeachment in 2018.

WT: I wish for a cat. A real cat.

Kristen Shepherd, Museum of Fine Arts: For the arts, and the MFA specifically, to be a catalyst for connecting people, breaking down barriers, and inspiring us to find and appreciate beauty in our world. 

Jacqui May, Grand Central District Association: To personally and professionally, support, represent, and wherever possible, elevate those who have not yet found their voice. We need to keep the dialogue going so many topics, in particular notions of “the other;” we need to identify where those ideas emerge from, why they are problematic, and how individuals and communities can be agents of change to end hatred and violence born out of a lack of awareness and understanding. I am proud to be involved with groups centering on notions of diversity, including the emerging Love not Fear movement, based here in Tampa Bay which focuses on changing cultural perceptions about those different than themselves and to build a community. Maybe I’m naive, but I can’t help but hope the world will be a less scary place if we accept that we’re all in it together and look at what we as silly humans have in common vs. focusing on “the other.” lovenotfearmovement.wordpress.com

Maureen McDole, Keep St. Pete Lit: That we become a more “act locally and think globally” world.

WT: I wish for joy.

C. David Frankel, Tampa Repertory Theatre: I hope that the country regains some level of sanity and can actually address real world problems with quasi-real solutions. Professionally, I hope that TampaRep continues to grow and to provide thought-provoking entertainment to an ever wider Tampa area audience.

Coralette Damme, artist: That people would step away from their phones for a minute. Stop talking/texting while you drive. Stop looking at your phone when you’re having dinner with someone else. Step away and reconnect with your loved ones and the world around you. Let’s be a little more analog in 2018. Recognize that we are a part of nature, not apart from it.

Geri Hannah Eaton, actor: I wish for peace on this humanity-ravaged earth and I wish happiness to all in 2018. Dreams can come true if we the people will only believe in the goodness of humanity. Just lay down your weapons and plant flowers and trees. Amen.

WT: I wish to see the world & all its beauty with the best company.

WT: I wish my daughter a full heart recovery.

Roxanne Escobales, UK-based journalist, former Weekly Planet staffer: My one wish for 2018? A visit home to sunny Florida, a drink at The Hub, going to see Will Quinlan play his guitar, some lechón from Bodega, a delicious pint of something from Rapp Brewing, a Frenchy’s sandwich, some fresh bread from Mauricio Faedo’s bakery (and one of those floury sugar cookies) — spending hours with my family and kick-ass Tampa Bay friends and a beach sunset. Maybe there’s more to life than people, music, food and drink, but I doubt it.

Rick Chaboudy, Suncoast Animal League: I have several friends that are dealing with some very serious medical issues. I can only hope that 2018 will bring them a successful outcome as they continue their brave fight.

Stephanie Neill, saint: To continue L-I-V-I-N! Oh, and more adventures! 

WT: For the wish tree to be restored + no more homework.

WT: To be with him, always.

Jennifer Konsharek, artist: Of course to wish for more wishes. 

Adam Kuhn: I wish I had more fidget spinners.

WT: Many more days like this.

click to enlarge High hopes at the Dalì Museum's Wish Tree
David Warner

There may be no better place to usher in the new year than Tampa Bay’s most famous ficus, the Dalì Museum’s “Wish Tree.”

A wish, as opposed to a resolution, carries a hopeful ring. Where resolutions tend to the self-flagellatory (“I will lose 25 pounds” is just another way of saying “I’m too fat”), wishes are more outwardly directed, and don’t necessarily require any extra work on your part. 

The Dalì’s tree invites you to give form to your hopes. You write a wish on your museum admission armband or say it silently to yourself, tie the armband to one of the ribbons dangling from the ficus branches, and presto! Your wish is now out in the world.

The history of the tree is itself a hopeful thing, a tribute to hardiness. Uprooted by a storm in South Florida in 2010, the tree was transplanted to St. Pete for the new Dalì Museum’s opening, and has since been knocked down by winds multiple times (including the winds of Irma) only to be shored back up again. 

The Dalì’s Heather Drake is “the unofficial keeper of the wishes” (her official title is group experience manager). Museum gardeners periodically collect the armbands from on and around the tree, and Drake keeps a record of wishes that are still legible because “we don’t feel they should be tossed.” Many of the messages are related to veterans (you can spot them by the red, white and blue striped ribbons), which is one reason the museum holds an annual reading of selected wishes on Veterans Day.

click to enlarge Paul Keefer ties one on. - David Warner
David Warner
Paul Keefer ties one on.

On the Friday before New Year’s, few of the visitors wandering through the Dalì’s Avant Garden knew of the tree’s history or the meaning of its colorful adornments. But once they were told, they happily tied one on. 

Paul Keefer, a chemical engineering student in North Carolina and a St. Pete native, was with his mother, Judy Fairchild, who lives in Largo, and his girlfriend, hairstylist Abbie Storey. He’s a vet, but his wish was romantic, not military (if a bit lockstep in its language): 

“I wish that Abbie and I would grow together and she would fall in line with all my ideas for the relationship.”

Out of earshot of Paul, Abbie related her wish in more simple terms: “I wish that he’d hurry up and propose.” 

As for Mom, hers was a wish that many families were making last weekend, when dangerous winter weather was making travel treacherous: “My wish is that they make it home safe and sound.”

Jennifer Van Horn and Lindy Davis, friends and teachers at Barrington Middle School in FishHawk Ranch, were on a museum scavenger hunt with their children, 10-year-old Brooklynn Van Horn and Lindy’s son Sebastian. Brooklynn tied her wish to the tree but didn’t want to say it out loud; nevertheless Sebastian spilled the beans, giggling: “She wants a squirrel!” 

click to enlarge Abbie Storey shares her hopes for 2018. - David Warner
David Warner
Abbie Storey shares her hopes for 2018.

Her mother’s wish was more in the self-improvement realm: “I’m wishing my 21-day fast in January will give me clarity.” She explained that the “Daniel Fast” is based on experiences of the Biblical prophet Daniel, and that it forbids, among other foods, grain, dairy, processed meats and alcohol.

Another teacher, Michelle Moore (Phys Ed, K-8), was visiting from Michigan with her niece, high school freshman Katelyn Moore. Formerly of Kissimmee, Michelle reached high up in the branches to affix her wish. Her explanation was simple, but spoke volumes:

“My dad’s been sick.”

The wishes transcribed by Heather Drake range, as these visitors’ did, from celebratory to heartbreaking, from silly to profound (see below). 

Sometimes they even come true.

“A woman from Germany made a wish that she’d meet her true love,” says Drake. Sure enough, when she got back to her home country she did meet a man — from St. Petersburg. Now they’re married.

The bride is pretty sure the Dalì’s tree of wishes had something to do with it. 

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