‘Christmas pothole’ to get a fix after fed-up residents ‘plant’ tree in gaping hole

Posted at 9:33 PM, Dec 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-10 23:33:39-05

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – A notorious pothole may be fixed as early as Tuesday after residents of one Pennsylvania neighborhood decided to decorate it with a Christmas tree last weekend.

Neighbors were fed up that the sinkhole in the middle of Sturdevant Street in Wilkes-Barre was getting bigger over the past few weeks without a fix.

Now it seems their festive way of calling attention to the problem may have crews out to fix the problem soon, according to WNEP.

There's a metal slab over the sinkhole now, but over the weekend, an artificial Christmas tree with ornaments and star stuck out of the hole – all the handiwork of Marietta Spak.

"I was upstairs in the attic and was looking for more Christmas decorations and thought, 'That would look nice in the hole,'" said Spak.

Spak pulled the fake fir from her car – it was her attempt to keep drivers from hitting the hole and to bring attention to the safety issue.

"It can cause so many problems with these holes. That's not just a pothole. That's sinkage, and it's starting to spider web," Spak said.

Gary Muchler has lived in this neighborhood for more than 60 years. He said he and others have only grown more frustrated as the hole grows and grows.

Eventually, a Santa Claus joined the tree inside the hole and Muchler posed with a watering can for his wife:

"We walked down here. She took a picture. Next thing you know, her phone was blowing up like crazy," said Muchler.

Wilkes-Barre Department of Public Works officials said they were aware of the sinkhole and the holiday decorations.

"We have a lot of comedians in the area who put trees in there. I think it's funny, too, Christmas spirit," said DPW worker David Iskra.

Now, it looks like the sinkhole will get fixed – but only after a tree, Santa, and social media drew attention to the problem. The company paving streets for Wilkes-Barre says the fix could be done by Tuesday.

City officials say the weather wasn't a factor in delaying a fix. The company was backed up with other jobs.