EDITOR’S NOTEBOOK: From the Pacific Beach Files: Mystery of the ‘shoe tree’


While walking around PB seeking inspiration for this month’s letter, I came across a dozen pair of athletic shoes hanging from the branches of a tree on Garnet Avenue, east of Gresham Street. Huh? Pretty weird, I thought. Through the years, I’ve seen an occasional pair or two dangling from utility wires over Cass Street, but never such an aggregate flung and fixed in a single spot.

In search of the who, what, when, why and how, I did an Internet-based study on “Shoe Tossing.”

Did you know ...

• The practice occurs throughout North America, Latin America, Europe and Australia, and in rural, as well as urban areas;

• In some neighborhoods, shoes tied together and hanging from power lines or tree branches signify that someone has died. The shoes belong to the dead person;

• Flinging shoes over the power lines outside of a house is believed to be a way to keep the property safe from ghosts;

• Urban legends have it that the shoes signal a drug dealer is nearby;

• However, most “experts” agree, shoe tossing is done for recreational or trivial purposes, usually as a prank played by bullies and drinkers.

Eventually, it dawned on me that since the “shoe tree” in question sits in front of The Movement Warehouse, there might be a connection. A phone call to Michael at the workout facility produced the answer.

Michael said he encourages members to toss their worn-out gym shoes into the tree as a celebration for meeting their fitness goals. “The shoes are too worn out to give to Goodwill, and we don’t want to litter the streets with them, so this is a symbolic way to get rid of them and go out and buy new ones.”

This revelation, dear readers, is one of the many bits of Pacific Beach news and information I hope you find useful in this month’s issue! Happy Spring!

— Editor Susan DeMaggio can be reached at (858) 875-5950 or