minstrel of Christmas cheer has sparked a heated debate in the small town of Peaksville and is threatening a holiday tradition that has been observed for the past 100 years, through three scarlet fever outbreaks and two world wars. The “Tree and Tunes” ceremony that once fostered a sense of goodwill and community pride has become a source of vitriol and bitterness. At the heart of the rancor is a controversy over Burl Ives and whether his unique vocal stylings should be allowed in the line-up of holiday music played at the event.
The conflict over Burl Ives first began when Wilma Myers, a member of the music committee for Tree and Tunes cut Ives from the play list referring to him as a “large, unsavory man”. The comment offended fellow committee member Dave Shivers, a large man who bears an uncanny resemblance to Burl Ives.
In a flurry of e-mails, Shivers defended Ives, calling him a “beloved icon of wholesome family entertainment and everything that is good in America.” Myers sent a stinging reply in which she described Ives’ singing as “god-awful”. Wrote Myers, “It sounds like my drunken Uncle Clem singing up through the furnace vent, the way he used to do when he’d get soused and sneak into my parents’ basement around the holidays.”
News of Myers' comments about Burl Ives quickly spread through the town, and Burl Ives fans of every stripe have come out in force, demanding his inclusion in the holiday proceedings. Those supporting Myers in her efforts to stamp out Burl Ives have formed a counter group, calling themselves the “Burl Ives My Ass Coalition,” or BIMAC. As a response to the crisis, the Tree and Tunes Council has scheduled open town meetings to try to resolve the issue. More details as this story develops.