SEATTLE -- A Seattle man became a household sensation across the country after climbing to the top of an 80-foot sequoia in downtown Seattle and refusing to come down for more than 24 hours. The saga finally ended Wednesday.
The tree next to the Macy’s department store is as tall as the eight-story building itself. Police on Tuesday morning shut down several blocks around the tree, along 4th and Olive, after they were called about a man being high up in a tree and as they tried to negotiate with him to come down.
No one knew why the man climbed the tree or what he wanted. He made no demands, offered no indications that he was making a protest statement. And no one knew why he wouldn't come down, especially when day turned to night and temperatures dropped.
But he finally did climb down on Wednesday morning. Midway down his descent, some wondered would he climb back up. He had done that before.
When the 28-year-old unidentified man climbed to the peak Tuesday, he also climbed to the top of Twitter with people using the hashtag #manintree.
The jokes poured in. But, for the police it was no joke.
“There were threats made toward officers and at one point he mentioned he had a knife,” Seattle police spokesman Patrick Michaud said.
Worried that the man was a threat to himself or others, negotiators climbed Fire Department ladders and talked through windows in an attempt to coax him down. But all efforts failed for nearly 24 hours.
The man in the tree threw pine cones and branches at officers, yelled obscenities, hung upside down and relieved himself at the top.
The day turned to night and then day again. The man in the tree even made a nest in the top branches.
“They just let him stay up there forever and cause a bunch of commotion. If you are going to let him do that, people are going to react,” one spectator said.
Dozens of spectators looked on with anticipation.
“You got to do what you got to do, it’s Seattle’s version of a man on the wire,” another spectator said.
Halfway down the tree, the climber asked police to promise they wouldn’t charge him with a crime. After one cop confirmed he wouldn’t be charged, the man stepped down to the ground to the cheers of the crowd.
“This is fun, it’s light and it's OK it ended well,” one spectator said.
It ended on a gurney -- the man now famous for climbing a tree wheeled away from the spotlight.
The man was taken to the hospital for a mental and medical evaluation.
Police know who the man is, saying they have run into him once before.
Police say it’s too early to determine how much the man in the tree cost the city.
Hours after the saga was over, people were still stopping to take pictures of the now legendary tree.