DECATUR, Ga. -- In the twinkling, pine-scented pantheon of Christmas decorating, mistletoe occupies a special place. But in the wild, mistletoe is a parasitic plant that creates a leafy ball in the tops of trees. For centuries, the challenge has been how to get the mistletoe out of the tree most efficiently.
"I've gathered it before," said 11Alive photographer Richard Crabbe, a man with roots in rural Georgia. "The traditional southern way-- with a gun!"
"Tradition has it that you would shoot it out of a tree with a gun," said Shannon Wurst, who sells mistletoe at Big John's in Buckhead. "At least that's what my grandparents always used to do."
To Wurst and to Crabbe, the harvesting of treetop mistletoe by shotgun makes perfect sense.
"A shotgun is the quickest and most efficient way," said Crabbe. "Unless you want to climb the tree and pick it."
That's the logic Richard Robinson apparently applied Sunday, when he was spotted with a shotgun near North DeKalb Mall.
"Robinson was firing into the trees in an attempt to get mistletoe out," said DeKalb police spokeswoman Mekka Parish. "To decorate his home for Christmas."
Police arrested Robinson on charges of illegally discharging a weapon and reckless conduct. The police report says "He said he does this every year, but never in the mall parking lot. The suspect was surprised he was getting arrested."
"One would think there would be some better tools out there" than a shotgun, said Parish.
Christmas is a holiday that thrives on tradition. William Robinson's tale is one of a holiday tradition gone slightly awry.
"The mall? Not the best place to go shoot mistletoe out of the trees," said Crabbe.