In what is possibly the Mainest story ever told, a man in Portland plead not guilty this week to blocking traffic while impersonating a tree.

According to NH1 News, a mysterious evergreen tree appeared in a busy Portland intersection back in October. Portland police arrived expecting to find a lost Christmas tree, or maybe a small ent. What they found was even stranger. Standing in the crosswalk at the corner of High and Congress streets, wearing all black and completely covered in evergreen boughs, was a man named Asher Woodworth. Officers approached Woodworth, whose name is so perfect for this story we couldn't have made it up, and asked the tree man to move along. When he refused to respond to officers, they took him into custody and charged him with blocking traffic.

Portland Assistant Police Chief Vern Malloch told the Portland Press Herald that while he was being booked at the station, Woodworth told police that his stunt was part of a performance.

"His motivation was to see how people would react to what he called his 'performance' and how he might impact 'people's natural choreography,'" Malloch told the Herald. He went on to say that, since Congress and High is in the heart of Portland's arts district, Woodworth's tree impersonation wasn't that surprising.

"It happens from time to time. People do bizarre things because they want to get arrested. We're still not sure if he was trying to make a statement."

Last week, our intrepid traffic researcher got his day in court. He plead not guilty to obstructing a public way, which is a class E misdemeanor in Maine and is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1000 dollar fine.

Hopefully the judge will be lenient on Woodworth. Maybe he can do some community service putting his tree costume to good use for the holidays.


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