SCARBOROUGH — When a woman came into Leviathan Body Art in Scarborough in January to get a small tattoo of a Christmas tree to memorialize her friend James Pearson, tattoo artist Emily Strickland thought it a fitting memorial.

Pearson, a Christmas tree farmer in Scarborough, was attacked and killed in his front yard last December. To Strickland, a small tattoo of a Christmas tree seemed a unique way to honor Pearson’s memory. “Once you see a little Christmas tree, you know, it was kind of perfect,” Strickland said.

The feedback from the community was overwhelming, Strickland said, so she and other tattoo artists at Leviathan decided to set aside two days to give Christmas tree tattoos to anyone who wanted to memorialize Pearson. They are donating half of the $60 cost to the Pearson Family Memorial Fund, a scholarship fund created shortly after James Pearson’s death for students from Scarborough who plan on studying a trade, horticulture or education.

The first day was this past Wednesday, and one of the people who came in to get a tattoo was Pearson’s daughter, Mary. She got a Christmas tree tattoo on her forearm and later, plans to add a quote of advice her father often told her.

“Leviathan is awesome, they’re very community-oriented,” Pearson said. “Dad would be proud.”

While Pearson lay on a table getting the center of her Christmas tree tattoo colored red by Strickland, she greeted people who came in to get the special tattoos. One of those was Abbie Sweatt, whom Mary didn’t know so she asked her how she knew her father. 

“My family has gotten our tree from your dad’s farm since I was a little girl,” Sweatt told her. “When I heard about these tattoos, I knew I had to come in and get one.”

Pearson said many people who came in for tattoos didn’t even know her father. “It just speaks volumes to how far this tragedy has touched the community” she said. “We’ve had thousands and thousands of people reach out to us in one form or another. It’s been very heartfelt.”

Jasin Chapman, owner of Leviathan, said that over 30 people came in on Wednesday to get the tattoos and that, between the proceeds from the tattoos and donations, they raised over $1,000 for the scholarship fund. The tattoo shop will offer the Christmas tree tattoos again on March 21 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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