A beautiful, multi-colored Iowa sky as the sun sets, with a large tree in the foreground. When this picture is taken, the sky is the star. But not for long.

Just minutes later, the tree becomes one of the most beautiful spectacles you'll ever see. A tree packed with lights. Tens of thousands of them.

IowaRoadTrip, YouTube
IowaRoadTrip, YouTube

It's stunning.

In the tiny town of Hanlontown, Iowa (population 218) it's known as the POET tree because it sits next to POET Bioprocessing, an ethanol plant that makes 56 million gallons of ethanol each year, according to the company website.

Calling it anything under than POET tree just wouldn't be right. Employees of the plant actually decorate the huge cottonwood tree. They donate their time to do it, knowing it will bring joy to everyone who sees it. 2021 marks the tenth year of the POET tree. Over that time, the number of lights on the tree has grown exponentially.

Iowa Road Trip says that in the beginning, it had a very impressive 14,000 lights. In 2020, WHO reported that number had more than quintupled, to an incredible 80,000 lights.

Not surprisingly, it can be seen for miles as night. I think it's especially beautiful with snow on the ground.

The contrast of the white lights against the black sky of night is gorgeous.

You'll find the POET tree less than five minutes west of I-35, in Worth County. It's about 2 1/2 hours from Cedar Rapids and a little over 90 minutes from Waterloo. The tree is on the northwest corner of Highway 9 and Fir Avenue, south of the plant and just northwest of Hanlontown.

While pictures and videos simply can't do it justice, here's a couple videos for you, until you can make it there in person.

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