One of Fountain Hills most endearing traditions is celebrating its 25th year anniversary with a stronger structure, thanks in part to a grant from the Fountain Hills Community Foundation.

The Poinsettia Tree Project, a program of the Fountain Hills Cultural and Civic Association (FHCCA), is organized each year by Fountain Hills Leadership Academy (FHLA) alumni. When the metal frame started revealing its age, project director Mike Pameditis submitted a grant application for funds to refurbish it.

“We were fast approaching the point of refurbishing and extending its life or replacing it at a cost of $6,000,” he said. “I think it’s a little more meaningful to continue with the original structure. In doing this, it will ensure that the structure is good to go for many, many years.”

Pameditis said the metal frame was sandblasted, powder coated, and repainted. The FHCF’s $1400 grant covered more than half of the cost.

The 14-foot tree which holds 220 live Poinsettia plants is the legacy of Bill Muehlhauser and Neal Ipema, who were both residents of Fountain Hills when they started the tradition in 1999. Muehlhauser is credited with bringing the idea to Fountain Hills; Ipema designed and built the metal frame.

Now a program of the FHCCA, each year’s FHLA graduates take responsibility for facilitating the ordering process. Fountain Hills residents purchase live Poinsettias in memory of or to honor significant people in their lives.

Pameditis (FHLA Class of 2021) succeeded Jessamyn Clark (FHLA Class of 2018) as director of the program in 2022, and believes this structure helps ensure its legacy.

“The holidays are a wonderful time but they can also be a tough time for some of our community members,” he said. “The thought of this tree offering them comfort during this time of year is wonderful.”