Posts Tagged ‘Christmas Trees’

Fee increase for Christmas trees

The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest (GMUG) is proposing a fee increase for Christmas tree permits that are sold.

“We have worked hard to keep this increase to a minimum, to cover the administrative costs and still allow a family to cut their own tree from the forest” remarked Charlie Richmond forest supervisor.

“However, we are finding the need to increase the permit fees this year to be in line with what the White River National Forest and the BLM are charging for permits.”

As proposed, Christmas tree permits on the GMUG would increase from $8.00 to $10.00 per tree beginning this November.

Authorized under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, 95% of the receipts collected from the permits will be retained locally and used to cover some of the expenses of administering the Christmas Tree program.

The GMUG is requesting public comment on this proposed fee increase.

Christmas Tree Will Have Elkton Theme

ELKTON — Donna Mowbray, leader of the Centennial Jubilee Committee’s Christmas tree ornament project, began thinking about ways to celebrate the town’s 100th birthday, and jotting down ideas, months ago.

Watching a segment of a home and garden show one day, Mowbray saw people making decorations for their state Christmas tree for the White House ellipse — the area directly south of the White House where every state in the union has a Christmas tree under its own name with state-made decorations.

Mowbray saw an opportunity. Why not have the Virginia state tree decorated by Elkton, in honor of the town’s centennial?

A call to the National Park Service and an explanation about the Centennial Jubilee won a sympathetic hearing.

“I told the Park Service lady about our events, and she took our name. When I talked to her again in February we had won the assignment,” Mowbray said.

The Centennial Steering Committee voted in favor of the project last spring, and Mowbray and her informal group have received, signed, and returned a contract to create the decorations.

“We will make them here and send them in December to the White House. The staff there will actually decorate the tree,” she said.

Each bauble will be made of two transparent hemispheres, into which a hand-made decoration will be placed and the two hemispheres then joined together into a single ornament. The decorations will be representative of Elkton and its history. As plans stand now, ten will contain small patches of hand-made quilting, stitched by Linda and Pam Monger.

Five will contain small horseshoes, symbolic of the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe, Gov. Spotswood’s troupe that first crossed the Blue Ridge. These are being made by Anthony Diorio of Mount Solon. Diorio’s Harrisonburg company already makes slightly smaller miniature horseshoes for students graduating from Elkton Elementary School.

Rhonda Meredith is making stained-glass interiors for five ornaments. Other ornaments are expected to include pictures of the Shenandoah River, the Valley, the Blue Ridge Mountains and other local scenes. Some will include the Centennial logo, Stonewall Jackson, and an Elk head.

A total of 51 ornaments will be made.

“From these, the First Lady (Laura Bush) selects one for the tree inside the White House,” Mowbray explained.

The ornaments will be placed on display at the Centennial Jubilee headquarters, at 306 W. Old Spotswood Trail, before they are sent to the White House on Dec. 4. Government staff will do the actual tree decoration for Virginia, as it does for all the state trees.

Several of Mowbray’s group are looking into the possibility of chartering a bus, or buses, in December to take interested persons to Washington to see the trees on the ellipse.

Toddler-proof Christmas tree has a soft touch

There won’t be any broken glass ornaments at Barbara Lacy-Whalen’s house this year. Nor will her 3-year-old son, Jack, get into trouble for playing with the Christmas tree. Not since Ms. Lacy-Whalen’s gone bananas, so to speak, with her holiday tree trimmings.

She decorates the entire tree with sock monkeys in all shapes and sizes. This is her second year with this theme, and she says trading in her traditional blue and silver ornaments has made the tree more fun for her son.

“The best part of it is I’ll walk by it, and my son will have taken one of the monkeys down, and he’ll be playing with it,” Ms. Lacy-Whalen says. “I want him to enjoy it.”

There are quite a few monkeys for him to choose from: a cheerleader, a frog, a cowboy, a sock monkey Santa, a sock monkey wearing sock-monkey socks and even an angel monkey topping off the Fraser fir, not that he could reach it.

Ms. Lacy-Whalen’s inspiration was not Curious George, but rather a whimsical black-and-white art book of sock-monkey photos. With the help of her mother-in-law, Judy Whalen, she has amassed enough monkeys to cover the tree. She’s also got a couple peeking out from the family stockings, which are made from red-heeled wool socks found at an antique store.

Interspersed among the monkeys on the tree are red yarn pom-poms that Ms. Lacy-Whalen made, and a soft rope garland with colors to match the sock monkeys. The overall effect is surprisingly festive, with all the big red monkey smiles standing out against the green tree.

Ms. Lacy-Whalen says that eventually she’ll change to another theme, perhaps when Jack starts making his own homemade ornaments, but until then, this approach works well, start to finish.

“It’s so easy to put it all away at the end of the season. It only takes an hour,” Ms. Lacy-Whalen says. “You just throw them in a box and you’re done.”

Building a better Christmas tree

A research project at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Truro, N.S., hopes to reverse the move to artificial trees with balsam firs that hold their needles.

The balsam fir is lush, full and fragrant, which makes it a popular choice for Christmas and a mainstay of Nova Scotia’s $30-million-a-year Christmas tree industry.

Industry officials say one of the main reasons cited by customers for their switch to artificial trees is needle loss.

Mason MacDonald hopes to turn that around with a doctoral research project he is conducting with the Atlantic Canada Christmas Tree Research Initiative to understand why Christmas trees lose their needles.

Mr. MacDonald said most people just assume that a Christmas tree sheds its needles because it is dry, but that is not the case.

He said they are studying the way the trees age and the way they shed in hopes of creating a Christmas tree that holds on to its needles.

Bugs in Christmas Trees

Marsha Williams’ Christmas tree is decorated and she’s in the Spirit of the Season.

Williams says, “I’ve never had a problem until this Christmas.”

But a few days ago, a six legged grinch showed up…lots of them

“I woke up and saw bugs everywhere and wanted to know what’s going on,” says Williams.

christmas tree bugWhat was going on is her Christmas tree was infested with bugs.

“I don’t do bugs so I called my Pest Control company,” she says.

The Duval County Extension service says the problem is Aphids.

“They’re not ticks, some people think they’re ticks but they’re Aphids and they feed on plants,” says Terry Del Valle.

Agent Del Valle says the mild weather is to blame, not the grower.

She says, “we’ve had more complaints about the problem in the last two years.”

Del Valle says the Aphids will not harm humans or pets, but will leave a mess if you smash them.

“They do stain,” she says.

Williams replaced her old tree with a new Fraser fir. But before placing the first ornament had it sprayed by her pest control company.

After years of live Christmas trees, Williams is having second thoughts.

“I think I am going to get an artificial tree next year,” says Williams.

Long Island Christmas Tree Is Too Small

Residents didn’t want to have themselves a merry little Christmas tree. They wanted a big one.

When city officials planted a 7-foot-tall Christmas tree next to a 20-foot-tall menorah in the plaza in front of City Hall, some residents barked. They telephoned City Hall, wrote letters and testified at a public hearing that the tiny tree in the shadow of the huge Hanukkah symbol was an insult to Christians.

“What’s up with the giant menorah and the Charlie Brown Christmas tree?” resident Rick Hoffman asked.

City Manager Edwin Eaton said he had looked far and wide — all the way to Canada — for a bigger tree but couldn’t find one.

“This year is going to be kind of a ‘bah, humbug,’ Christmas,” Eaton had said.

But on Wednesday the city of about 35,000 residents 25 miles southeast of midtown Manhattan found a tree to match the 20-foot menorah: a 20-foot blue spruce.

The old tree, a Bacheri spruce, was pruned of its lights, dug up, and taken to a mall.

A lighting ceremony for the new tree is scheduled for Friday.

Which artificial Christmas tree rated best?

Is it real, or is it fake? These days, from a distance, it’s harder than ever to tell. A good artificial tree can almost pass for a real one.

Most artificial trees range in price from about $70 to $400. Although, if you want to go top of the line, expect to spend a lot more.

“Some of them were very good and some of them weren’t so good,” said Todd Kent with the Good Housekeeping Institute.

“We tested these trees for durability and flammability. Some of the trees were much easier to tip over than others,” Kent said.

“All the trees, though, did pass our flammability test and don’t pose a hazard for catching on fire. We had some consumers come in and score them for appearance as well, telling us what they looked for in a Christmas tree. ”

Good Housekeeping found two artificial trees that shined bright: Panelists chose the $800 Balsam Hill as their favorite because of its rich green color and the natural looking fall of the branches.

“The tree is full. I love the fact that the needles are thick,” said Nicole Larson, who helped evaluate the trees. “You can’t see the trunk of the tree. It looks like a natural tree.”

The GE Just Cut Fraser Fir from Lowe’s was the best value at just $300.

“Consumers really liked the plentiful lighting on the GE tree,” Kent said. They also liked the lighted connection at the top of the tree for hooking in an electrical ornament, and the foot pedal that helps turn on and off the lights.”

And it’s easy to take down the tree. The trunk separates into sections, and you can fold up the hinged branches.

Most artificial trees now come pre-wired, so you need to look at a sample that’s turned on before you buy.

And check to see if the lights stay on when you take out one bulb. On some artificial trees all the lights will go out.

Artificial trees can still tip over, just like a real one, so you need to be careful with kids and pets around. And Good Housekeeping says in many cases it takes two people to take apart a fake tree. Because it can be hard to squeeze the trees back into their original boxes or bags, Good Housekeeping says it’s a good idea to buy storage bags or containers to put them in at the end of the season.

Holiday guide: Christmas tree expert

Thomas Sullivan never gets sick of the smell of pine needles.

The 21-year-old Michigan State University student has worked at the Anna Lovisa Tree Farm in Bath for six years. This means he can speak authoritatively about Fraser firs, balsam firs, white pines, Scotch pines and more.

And during his tenure, no one has ever lost a tree, meaning that no tree he’s put on a car has ever flown off on the highway.

But getting your tree home safe is just one of his missions. His other duties include cutting down trees, drilling the bases and lugging them to people’s cars.

We talked to him about his job and what it’s like working on a tree farm.

How did you start working at a tree lot?

My family had been going there for quite a few years. When I was 16, a high school kid working there got hurt playing hockey and my parents told the tree farm to contact me.

What’s your favorite part about the job?

Everyone that comes to get a tree is in a good mood. It’s never a poor attitude. Everyone is in the Christmas spirit. It’s great. It’s just that laid-back atmosphere.

Do you try to sell a tree to a person like a car salesman, or do you just let them wander?

Typically, people are used to getting a particular tree. They come out, we greet them and ask if they’ve been there before and most have. If they know the drill, they grab a cart, a drill and a saw and go to one of the four fields.

Do you know a lot about trees now?

Actually, I’ve learned a lot. There’s so many species. We pretty much have any kind of tree you want in the U.S.

Do you ever get sick of the smell?

That never gets old. When you get out there and start drilling trees and shaking them, all those memories come back to you.

What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened at the lot?

There’s always people bringing back a tree thinking it will fit in their house. It’s funny when we have to take a couple feet off a tree. It’s gotta fit in their house some way. We drill trees and it takes two people to do it. One holds it and one lines it up. If a person holding it lets go, you’re gonna get covered in a tree. You hope it’s a softer needled tree, but it’s usually the spruces and they poke you.

Did you ever see people fight over a tree?

No, but it’s come close. People are in a good mood, but someone will be looking at a tree and move on and someone will zap the one they were looking at. No arguments or nothing too bad. People are in too good of a holiday spirit to let it get to them.

Are there people out there that really want the Charlie Brown Christmas tree?

I have seen it. They say “I want a Charlie Brown tree.” It’s hard to find because all the trees are perfect, but you find the straggler that fits the mold.

Have you ever met a girl at the lot?

I have not. No phone numbers. I’m taken, so this year I will not be seeking any.

What makes a good tree?

Each one is different. Some people like a wild-looking tree and others like a cone-shaped (one). Some people like a lot of room for ornaments. We see it all. What one person thinks is ugly, another might think it’s the perfect tree.

When is the busiest time?

The two weeks after Thanksgiving and the first two weekends of December.

When it gets really cold, do you have to stand out there?

We have two buildings. We’ll hide out in there and have our hot cider and coffee.

Keep Your Christmas Tree Fresh

There is a little more than a slight concern about the condition of Christmas trees this year.

This is especially true where your prized Christmas tree may have come from an area that was in a severe drought.

Up front, most of our trees have come from areas that weren’t in a drought stricken area. Keep in mind that most of our trees have come from Christmas tree farms north of us. You would be surprised at the numbers coming from Pa. Northern Ohio and even Michigan. Lets make the assumption that you don’t know where your Christmas tree was grown. In that case and this year especially there are important hints to follow to make sure your Christmas tree doesn’t become a fire hazard before you get it out of the house.

Remember this, more than likely your Christmas tree has already been cut and shipped to our region. That means it sits at the Christmas tree lot till you purchase it. Best thing to do is purchase your tree now, especially this year.

Two things happen when getting it early. You have a better selection and it can be better cared for at your house rather than at the Christmas tree lot where it isn’t even being watered. Bring it home now and cut off about an inch of trunk. Plop it in a five gallon pale of water and place the tree in shade and in an area where it doesn’t get prevailing winds. Keep it outside in the bucket till you place it inside. Then when you do take it inside, remove another inch of trunk so that the tree has the ability to take up water. Keep it watered inside and remember that there isn’t anything I know of to add to the stand water to make the tree absorb water better.

Christmas tree farm puts ‘green’ in its evergreens

A family run Christmas tree farm has been lauded for putting the green in its evergreens.

The Michigan Farm Bureau this week presented the Candy Cane Christmas Tree Farm its Proactive Leader in Ecology Management award. The farm in the Oakland County community of Oxford, about 30 miles north of Detroit, also has been certified by the Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program, which promotes pollution prevention programs.

Candy Cane’s owners say the outside recognition reflects their passion for all things that grow.

“We decided early on that we have to live in concert with the earth,” Cathy Genovese, who owns the farm with her husband, Frank, told the Detroit Free Press for a story Saturday. “We want to leave it a better place; to farm so that we do no harm.”

Among the farm’s eco-friendly practices:

• Workers plant each tree of the thousands on 18 acres by hand using an electric auger, rather than the large tractors used on most farms.

• The farm uses a drip-irrigation method that saves water and energy compared with overhead sprinkler systems.

• Planters intermingle, rather than concentrate species of trees, which helps limit the spread of diseases and pests.

• The farm was among the first to sell “pot in pot” live Christmas trees. Those are specially planted evergreens that can be transplanted outside after the holidays.

“The Genoveses have a good, green healthy relationship with the environment on all different levels,” Carrie Vollmer-Sanders, agricultural ecology specialist with the Farm Bureau, said.

The Genoveses, who have run the farm for 32 years, are master gardners and organic experts.

“It is a nice life,” Cathy Genovese said. “When you are on our farm and you take a deep breath, it’s just wonderful.”

Mini-global warming splits Christmas tree

Christmas will be coming a little late to Belfast this year after a mini global warming disaster struck the city’s Christmas tree.

The 45ft Norway Spruce tree from Parkanaur near Dungannon, was cut down last week.

However, it quickly began to split in two.

A council spokesman said: “The wet summer and unseasonally dry autumn had a devastating effect on the tree but we hope to source another immediately.”

Time’s running out for the council though, the big switch on of the Christmas tree lights is due to take place on Tuesday, November 20. About 15,000 people are expected to attend.

The council says a new tree will be there for the switching on.

Lord Mayor Jim Rodgers will be joined by the singer Shayne Ward and Blue Peter tv presenter Zoe Salmon.

It is not the first time Christmas events have not gone exactly to plan in Belfast Council.

There was heated discussion in 1995 as to whether President Clinton or the Power Rangers should have the honour of switching on the lights.

In the end the president got the vote.

Meanwhile, assembly members from the north west are set to try and break the world record for having the most Santas in one place at the same time.

The event is scheduled to take place on Sunday 9 December on the Derry Walls.

It is one of the largest charity events ever organised in Northern Ireland and all of the proceeds raised through “10001 Santas” will be divided between four local charities: Children in Crossfire, Foyle Hospice, Macmillan Cancer Care and iCARE.

Rockefeller Christmas tree is a big one: 84 feet tall

This year’s Rockefeller Center tree is 84 feet tall and 48 feet in diameter.

It’s scheduled to be cut down today by a two-man crew using a giant hand saw at the Shelton, Connecticut home of Joe and Judy Rivnyak.

The tree will then be hoisted by a huge crane onto a 115-foot long trailer and brought to New York City, where it is expected to arrive on the ninth of this month.

New Yorkers will get to see it lit up in a ceremony planned for November 28.

Artificial Christmas tree for Point St Lucie City Hall

An artificial Christmas tree will grace the front lawn of City Hall this year — whether the City Council wants it or not.

City Manager Don Cooper asked city staff to cancel a lease agreement for the tree with Tavares-based Clark Sales Display after council members balked at the $11,750 price tag.

But the agreement required the city to cancel its order before Sept. 1, said Budget Director David Pollard. The tree should arrive some time next week in plenty of time for the Nov. 30 tree lighting ceremony.

The council asked city staff to look into buying an artificial tree after the city went through its eighth live tree in eight years last December.

The cost to lease a fake tree was about $4,700 less over three years than the cost to buy one, Pollard said. The lease option also would have left the responsibility to store and maintain the tree with Clark Sales, which supplies the city’s other Christmas decorations.

But in a time of budget cutbacks, Vice Mayor Jack Kelly said $11,750 per year is too much to spend on a tree the city won’t own.

“It should come with a catered party, singers, a band, balloons and everything else for $11,000,” Kelly said. 

Norway you’re having my Xmas tree

THE tree had been selected and the axe was ready to fall.

But a last-minute change of heart has scuppered plans for a 40ft spruce from Norway to take pride of place at Edinburgh’s Christmas celebrations.

The Norwegian region of Hordaland, based around the city of Bergen, has made an annual gift of a Christmas tree to the Capital for the past 23 years.

Edinburgh grandmother Pauline Wood won an Evening News prize draw to travel to Norway with her three grandchildren to take part in the ceremonial felling of this year’s tree.

But just hours before the event it was called off because the owner had stepped in to stop the tree being chopped down.

It is understood there was not enough time to find another suitable tree in Norway and the Norwegians are now expected to pay for a tree to be supplied from a forest in the Borders.

Mrs Wood, 59, from Easter Drylaw Avenue, made the trip to Bergen last weekend with grandchildren, Reece, 16, Kelsay, ten, and Ronan, seven.

Kelsay was due to take part in a symbolic chopping of the tree.

But Mrs Wood said: “There was a call to say the tree felling was not going ahead because the person who had said they could have the tree had changed his mind.

“Everyone was standing by ready – there was a low-loader to take it to the harbour for shipping; the crane was there; there was a guy with a chainsaw; and they had shut off the roads.

“Then, I understand, the owner denied he had given permission. He said we could have the tree next door – but it was a pretty poor specimen by comparison and the Norwegians said no way.

“I understand it was too late in the day to go anywhere else and so the Christmas tree is now likely to come from Scotland.”

But Mrs Wood said she and her grandchildren enjoyed the trip despite the disappointment.

It is the third year running there has been a problem over Norway’s tree gift. Two years ago residents of a council scheme objected to a tree which they had nurtured for 32 years being cut down to send to Edinburgh.

And last year the specialist shipping company which was due to transport the tree ran into financial problems. Bergen was still determined to give Edinburgh’s Christmas tree and so paid for one from woodland near Peebles.

A spokeswoman for Edinburgh City Council said: “For more than 20 years, the people of Hordaland in Norway have gifted a Christmas tree to the City of Edinburgh to light up The Mound during the Christmas period.

“This year will be no different. A tree will be given to the city and it will once again bring joy to the many visitors and residents who visit in the city festive period.”

The tree controversy is a further embarrassment to Norway as it faces a row over plans to close its consulate in Edinburgh. Six jobs will be lost when the consulate closes its doors after 50 years, as part of foreign ministry cuts.

The tree is sent by Norway as a gesture of thanks for the support Scotland gave during the Second World War.

Christmas trees to help spread some joy this holiday season

Christmas morning will come a little early this year.

That’s the theme of next weekend’s Christmas Gala sponsored by the Junior Civic League.

“This is the largest fundraiser of the year, and we’re all excited about it,” said Kris Ramsey, publicist chairwoman for the 19th annual gala.
More than $450,000 will be given back the local organizations that have donated money for the JCL.

“There will be 36 packages will be auctioned off in the silent auction, which are smaller items compared to the live auction,” said Shawn Benson, co-chair of Junior Civic League. “All the money we make at the auction goes back to the grants and sponsors of the gala.”

The JCL will have a buffet and a musical act to make the night entertaining.

“The Renaissance Singers will be performing for us at the gala,” said Ramsey.

The auction will have items such as fire places, Christmas trees and other items to help get bidders in the holiday spirit.

“We also have the Giving Tree package, which is a very special package,” said Benson.

The Giving Tree package is donated to three low-income families in the community who made a wish list of the things they would like to have for Christmas.

“We have already selected the families that will get the package, and they will get the tree, clothing certificates and other things,” Ramsey said.

JCL will help the children as well as the parents with the packages.

“We’ve included things for Mom and Dad to have that was on their wish list,” Benson said.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Selected

A 60-year-old Norway spruce from Shelton will be heading to New York City as this year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

The 84-foot-tall tree in Joseph and Judy Rivnyak’s backyard is being prepared to make the trip to the Big Apple next week. The Rivnyaks have lived at the home on Soundview Avenue for 32 years and say the tree was planted in 1947 by the home’s first owner. Judy Rivnyak says her husband wasn’t too enthusiastic at first about the spruce being taken, but he has warmed up to the idea.

The couple will be staying overnight at a hotel for the Nov. 28 tree lighting ceremony, courtesy of NBC.

Four of the past nine Rockefeller Center Christmas Trees have come from Connecticut, including Norway spruces from Ridgefield last year, Manchester in 2003 and Killingworth in 1999.

City stuck with $11,750 fake Christmas tree

Port St. Lucie City employees tried to cancel plans for an $11,750 fake Christmas tree today after city council members balked at the price tag but were told it’s too late: the faux fir has already been ordered and is scheduled for delivery to city hall next week.

“It’s just Christmas in Port St. Lucie,” sighed Parks and Recreation Director Chuck Proulx, who signed a three-year, $35,250 contract to rent a 30-foot artificial evergreen for the city’s annual tree-lighting event.

City Manager Don Cooper instructed employees to cancel the rental contract earlier today after reading a story in The Palm Beach Post quoting council members angry by the steep rental cost.

Budget Director Dave Pollard reviewed the contract and said the cancellation deadline was Sept. 1. Even if the city axed the tree now, it still would have to pay the $11,750 rental cost, Pollard said.

The costly tree will adorn the front lawn of city hall where eight real Christmas trees have died of mysterious causes since 1999.

The city’s annual tree-lighting is set for Dec. 6, but earlier today Cooper said he was unwilling to rent the tree given council opposition.

“Maybe we should just go to Wal-Mart and get a tree,” Cooper wrote in an email to city council members today. “I do not know what this does for the tree lighting (or even if there will be one) given the late date.”

Don’t pine for the fake one.. a real tree is best

IT can be a tricky operation, but putting up the Christmas tree does not normally involve removing the front door or abseiling from the ceiling.

However, when the first real tree in five years was installed and decorated at Jenners department store over the weekend, a military-style effort was required to get 40-foot Norwegian spruce in place.

Special aerial teams worked all night on Saturday, using ropes and harnesses to put up 9500 lights ahead of the switch-on.

The team of 25 contractors had already taken out the department store’s revolving door in order to get the tree in.

But staff declared that the hard work and sleepless night had been worth it when brothers Frankie, six, and Adam Cusack, four, turned on the lights. The boys won the prize following a charity auction in aid of the Sick Kids Friends Foundation.

Store manager Alan Thomlinson said: “This is the first time we’ve had a real tree for five years. The chief executive was keen to go back to the traditions of Jenners.

“Customers ask every year ‘When are you going to put up a real tree again?’ You don’t get the smell and the whole atmosphere from a fake one.

“The tree has been specially treated so it doesn’t drop too many needles. It’s also a case of vacuuming up every morning.”

Aimi Hautau, head of personal shopping and publicity, added: “People do come especially to see the tree, and for the whole Christmas experience. We’ve had e-mails from customers in England asking if the tree was up.”

A team from K2 Specialist Services Ltd helped remove a revolving door, before carrying the tree into the grand hall.

The tree had arrived in a truck from a forest in the Scottish Borders, with a police escort because of its size to ensure the journey went smoothly.

The contractors used a motor and ropes to winch it up and into place. It has been anchored in a wooden base, with a supply of water to keep it hydrated.

The store’s visual team then worked through the night, spending nearly 13 hours decorating the tree. Specially trained workers used ropes and harnesses to abseil from the roof and place the thousands of tiny white lights.

Frankie and Adam had helped the visual team choose the Norwegian spruce, nicknamed “Bruce the Spruce”, from the Duke of Buccleuch’s Borders estate.

Ian Kirby, Jenners’ visual manager, said: “We chose this one for colour and fullness. It’s a very lush green. We hope it will last until after New Year. We keep the temperature down so it doesn’t get too dried out.”

The previously-used fake tree, specially made to fit the grand hall, was the largest indoor one in Europe when it was first erected in 2003. But many customers complained that it was not the same.

Catriona Gillespie, 33, a full-time mum from Stockbridge, watched the lights being switched on with her two children.

She said: “It’s much nicer having a real one, and more in keeping with the traditional feel of the shop. It really gets you in the mood for Christmas shopping.

Fashion Island’s Christmas tree arrives

Fashion Island’s traditional two-month celebration of Christmas officially began Thursday, as 115 feet of holiday cheer arrived on a flatbed truck.

The towering white fir, shipped from Mt. Shasta and said to be the largest Christmas tree in the country, will be adorned with thousands of ornaments, bows, ribbons and white lights during the next two weeks in advance of lighting ceremonies.

Lighting ceremonies

Fashion Island’s Christmas tree will be illuminated during ceremonies at 6 p.m. on Nov. 16 and 17 in the Bloomingdale’s courtyard, 701 Newport Center Drive. Students from the California Conservatory of the Arts will perform, and the shopping center’s 40th anniversary will be recognized.

“HandyCane” inventor finds way to make Xmas tree watering eas

It’s one of those mundane chores that annoys even the most cheerful Christmas enthusiast but is quickly forgotten shortly after completion in the glow of the holiday spirit: watering the Christmas tree.

Everyone knows the drill. Fill up whatever container that has been designated to do the job year after year with water, get down on your hands and knees and fight your way through prickly pine needles and boxes of neatly wrapped presents, all the while tryng not to spill the sloshing pan of water before reaching your goal: the tiny stand at the base of the tree.

Now there’s an easier way to keep your tree hydrated. It’s the HandyCane, the brain child of Nantucket Resident John Arena and his business partner Erik Dieknann.
The HandyCane, a 41-inch long plastic candy cane shaped funnel, makes the daily watering of the tree a snap, and the tool doubles as a holiday decoration.

“I used to live in Boston and had a Christmas party every year and just got sick of getting on my hands and knees to water the tree,” said Arena, who left Boston four years ago to come to Nantucket and work in real estate.

The HandyCane is so simple, even Arena noted as much in the company’s press release announcing the invention, calling it the “’Why Didn’t I Think Of That” solution to watering a Christmas tree.

The product works by using the bent part of the candy cane, which detaches from the stem, to hold a quart of water. The stem is then placed in the base of the tree and the water is poured from the bent section into the stem and into the base.

Arena said he thought of the idea as far back as December of 1995, but never took any action on it because once the holidays were over, so was the need for watering a Christmas tree.

It took some prodding from Diekmann to get the project moving forward.

“Erik lived in an apartment in Boston and had the same problem watering his tree and he said to me ‘lets get going on this,” said Arena.

Arena said the clincher that he thinks will make his invention a big seller is its functionality combined with the candy cane holiday design.

“No one wants a PVC pipe and an oil funnel hanging around the Christmas tree,” said arena. “I don’t think it’s a good idea unless it is a decoration as well.”

Arena then drew up a prototype on a piece of paper and brought it to an engineering firm, who worked out the logistics. The final design was then manufactured in China before being sold for the first time this season.

The invention has drawn widespread national media attention and is set to be featured on the December 19 episode of the “Rachel Ray Show” a popular home design and cooking show on the Food Network.

“We had no idea if it would sell or not, but when we brought it to the Boston Christmas Festival we sold hundreds of them,” said Arena.

Arena said his company, HandyCane Inc., had about 30,000 units made and have sold a few thousand so far, but it is the 2007 season he is looking forward to.

“QVC (the home shopping network) has tested the product and is looking into selling it next year,” said arena, who has also hired a product rep to shop the HandyCane to major retailers like Wal-mart and Target.

For now, shoppers can purchase the HandyCane, which sells for $14.95, on the web site, HandyCane.com or at a handful of island retailers, including Marine Home Center, Bartlett’s Farm, Grand Union, Four Winds Gift Shop, Dan’s Pharmacy and Island Variety.

Drought hasn’t hurt Christmas trees

Cline Church has been in the Christmas tree business for 30 years.

“We grow strictly the Frasier fur. Which here in North Carolina we like to call the Cadillac of Christmas trees,” Church said.

His 400 acre farm has about 150,000 Christmas trees. Around 20,000 will be cut for this holiday season.

“It’s really pleasing to know you’re producing a product that’s going to go in a home and be the center piece for maybe 30 days or more,” Church said.

This year a lack of rain has caused concern for farmers all over the state, but Church says the western North Carolina counties, like Ashe County, had enough rain to keep the trees healthy.

“It hasn’t affected the growth of our larger trees at all. We’ve had some great growth. The only problems we may encounter is some of our small plants that we just planted this year we may lose a little more than we normally do,” he explained.

But luckily some of the trees were planted early in the year.

“We had some sufficient rainfall in March and April and a lot of us planted sometime in February and March so we’ll be in good shape,” he said.

As for neighboring tree farms in southern areas, Church says they might have some trouble in years to come.

“If we do see a problem with the volume of Christmas trees it will be six or seven years down the road before a shortage, but if we can get back to some normal rainfall in ’08 then with some good healthy plants planted, it will probably catch up and fill that void,” he said.

For now, Church is focused on Thanksgiving falling two days earlier this year.

“We’re all having to really put a lot of extra effort into getting them into the retail areas before Thanksgiving,” he said.

Trees from Church’s farm will be sold all over the East coast from Maine to Florida and in Greensboro and Charlotte.

Flood victims may need Christmas trees

When the July flood in Osawatomie washed away the contents of nearly 300 homes, Christmas was far from their minds.

But with the holidays quickly approaching, many of those families have lost all their holiday decorations and Christmas trees.

Osawatomie residents, along with Kansas Assisting Recovery Efforts officials, are planning an event to give decorated Christmas trees to flood-affected families.

Michele Hafer of KARE said the first step is to locate the families that need trees to gauge the need.

Anyone affected by the flood that needs a Christmas tree should call the Osawatomie Graphic office at 755-4151 to get their name put on a list.

Once the need has been identified, the group will take donations of artificial Christmas trees and decorations.

A method for distributing the trees has not been determined. The hope is that Osawatomie elementary school classes will decorate the trees and those taking them home can have their pick. The trees will then be taken down and boxed up for transport.

State Christmas tree on its way to Lansing

Residents gathered in Carroll’s Corners Thursday to harvest the state Christmas tree during a Gift to the Capital ceremony. The event took place at the home of the the 74-foot donated spruce — the yard of Dan Caron and Katie Homernik.

The tree will be put on display at the state capitol building in Lansing during the holiday season.

The Michigan Association of Timberman (MAT) in conjunction with the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association (GLTPA) and the Michigan Department of Management & Budget (DMB) selected the state tree out of several nominations statewide.

The Escanaba Area High School Band kicked off the festivities, playing various Christmas carols, including “Deck the Halls,” followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Sheila Hughes.

Denny Olson, MAT member and Michigan vice president of the GLTPA, made opening remarks followed by a few words from elected officials. “I’m so proud to be a part of this,” Olson said. “And I hope that you all are too.” His sentiment was met by a round of applause.

Escanaba Township Supervisor Kevin Dubord said it was an honor to have the tree come from Escanaba Township. While there have been state Christmas trees harvested in the past in Delta County, this was a first for Escanaba Township, he said.

Lisa Webb Sharp, director of the DMB, emphasized what an important symbol the tree was for the state of Michigan. “And this is not a holiday tree,” she said, “It’s a Christmas tree.”

State Rep. Tom Casperson. R-Escanaba, also attended the harvesting. He thanked the residents for coming out and remarked on the beauty of the tree and its U.P. roots. “It’s just a blessing to have this come out of the 108th district,” he said. “I look forward to looking out my window in Lansing and seeing such a fabulous Christmas tree on the state lawn.”

To conclude the ceremony, Olson thanked the Delta County Road Commission, Chamber of Commerce and Delta County Sheriff’s Department, Ness Contracting for donating their crane for the day, and Kretz Lumber Co. for hauling the tree to Lansing.

Olson wished everyone a great Christmas. “But let’s not forget what Christmas is all about,” he said. “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

This is the fifth year in a row a state Christmas tree has been selected out of the U.P. The tree is expected to arrive in Lansing Saturday, with the ceremonial tree lighting scheduled for Friday, Nov. 16.

World’s Largest Christmas Tree At Six Flags

From the air to the ground, the world’s biggest Christmas tree is flying home to Vallejo for the holidays.

“What you see now is in it’s infancy we’ll be reattaching the limbs that we had to cut off during the transport and now it will go into that stage, the Dolphin fountain area,” says Nancy Chan.

The 25,000 pound giant fir was trucked in, nearly six hundred miles from a tree farm in Salem, Oregon.

But to get it into the park, the only way, was the fashionable way.

Once set right side up, the dazzling tree will be almost as tall as the park’s tallest roller coaster; the medusa

“The base of the trunk is four feet tall. Because it’s the world’s biggest Christmas tree, it needs the world’s biggest Christmas tree stand,” explains Kirk Smith.

“It will be dawned with 35,000 lights during the holidays,” says Smith.

A beautiful sight, which will make holidays in the park one of the biggest celebrations in all of California.

The magic will begin on November 23rd, and will run through January 6th, except for Christmas eve and night.

Oregon fills a tall order with Christmas tree

There’s only one word to describe the Douglas fir now on its way from Oregon to be a Christmas tree in California: colossal.

It took three people using chain saws to cut down the 125-foot tree and a giant crane to lift it off the ground and place it on an extended flatbed tractor truck.

“With a tree this big, you want to harvest it in a way that will bring it down to the ground safely and gently,” said Ed Hallett, co-owner of Oregon Evergreen Inc. and Willamette Evergreen Tree Farm in Salem.

“Neighbors in the area came out to watch,” Hallett said. “It was quite something to see.”

The 25,000-pound tree rolled out of the Canby area, where Hallett found it, on the 18-wheeler Wednesday morning. It headed down Interstate 5 on a two-day journey to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, Calif., in the San Francisco Bay area.

With a trunk diameter of 4 feet and branches that span 55 feet, the tree is expected to arrive at the theme park late today.

It will be ceremoniously airlifted into the park by a BV234 Chinook helicopter piloted by Columbia Helicopters in Portland. The Chinook is the biggest and heaviest-lifting helicopter in the nation.

“We couldn’t get it in the park, otherwise,” said Nancy Chan, a Six Flags spokeswoman.

This is the first time Six Flags officials have purchased a Christmas tree from Oregon. It will be lit Nov. 23, Chan said. She would not say what the gigantic tree cost or the price tag to transport it.

During its 590-mile trip to the Bay area, Oregon’s towering tree likely will cross paths with a 75-foot fir tree being transported from the Klamath National Forest in Yreka, Calif.

That tree is expected to arrive at the Woodburn Company Stores between 6 and 8 this morning, outlet mall officials said.

The trip from Canby to Vallejo, Calif., is 591 miles, while the trip from Yreka to Woodburn is 295 miles.

If Six Flags had purchased its tree from Yreka and Woodburn Company stores had bought its from Canby, the companies could have saved themselves a transporting distance of about 300 miles each.