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

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‘Shoe tree’ in front of The Movement Warehouse

Susan De Maggio

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.

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‘Shoe tree’ in front of The Movement Warehouse
Susan De Maggio

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 editor@lajollalight.com