There’s only one tree in Castle Rock that keeps its color year-round.
From its trunk to the tips of each branch, an aspen tree off Golden Valley Trail is painted in vibrant tie-dye.
“We’ve been getting a lot of people coming by showing their approval and saying, ‘hey that tree looks great,’ but they don’t understand or know why,” said Michael Connolly.
The multicolored tree beside the Connolly home didn’t always look that way. It had been dead for at least a year and Michael and his wife Sara had considered cutting it down. They didn’t because of their daughter, Kyra.
“Kyra was kind of a little hippy girl,” Michael said with a smile.
People who knew 17-year-old Kyra Connolly knew she loved tie-dye.
“We go back and we look at pictures from when she was a kid – she was wearing tie-dye!” Sara laughed.
It’s no surprise Kyra loved the work of an artist she saw on TV who painted dead aspen trees in bright colors.
Sara remembers watching the story with Kyra one night in September.
“I was like, ‘boy we should do that with our dead aspen. That’d be great!’” Sara said. “Kyra was all for it. She was like, ‘yeah let’s definitely do it.”
The next morning, Kyra Connolly was killed in a car crash not far from Castle View High School where she was a senior. In the days after Kyra’s death, Sara Connolly remembered the conversation about the aspen tree.
“We’re not cutting the tree down. We’re painting it,” Sara said.
And so they did. Not just Sara and Michael, but neighbors and friends.
“All the way down to babies who still got a brush in their hand and got some of the trunk,” said Sara.
Kyra’s tree was painted in the way that she would have liked.
“We’re doing our best to keep some of her alive, some spirit alive and in a beautiful way,” Sara said.
The tie-dyed aspen now serves as a reminder of the color that Kyra brought to the world.