Only in Decatur: The Bikini Tree
Warm weather has returned to Central Illinois, so residents have been on the lookout for the new painted suit on the tree in Fairview Park…the Bikini Tree, to be exact.
Her roots have been traced back almost 60 years, when members of the Decatur High School Class of 1959 painted the first bikini as a senior prank in the spring of that year. Considered a little risque for the time, most females still wore one-piece bathing suits. Wearing bikinis didn’t go mainstream until the early 60’s when the song Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini hit number one. While she has worn her fair share of polka dots over the years, more creative versions have appeared, too, including the 2018 design pictured above.
Various other groups have claimed ownership over the years rotating between senior classes at other high schools and Millikin students operating under the cover of darkness. Even local artists have gotten into the act. Regardless of her origins, one thing is clear – the Bikini Tree is a cherished symbol of summer that you’ll only find in Decatur.