Tree tradition

Gary and Cindy Gerlach are getting real for this year’s holiday season.
Krystle Wagner
Nov 27, 2012

 

After a few years of putting up an artificial tree, the Spring Lake couple decided to switch back to a real tree, which they picked out Saturday at Spring Lake Presbyterian Church.

Last year, Americans purchased 30.8 million real trees and 9.5 million artificial trees for the holidays. The National Christmas Tree Association’s website indicated that consumers spent an average of $34.87 on real trees, while artificial tree buyers spent an average of $70.55.

This year, between 2.5 and 3 million Michigan trees are expected to be cut down and sold, said Marsha Gray, executive director of the Michigan Christmas Tree Association. Gray said Michigan is the third-largest producing state for fresh-cut Christmas trees, with most grown between Cadillac and Lake City, and in Oceana and Montcalm counties.

When deciding between having an artificial or real tree in their home, there’s one category that had Cindy Gerlach wanting a real tree.

“I love the smell,” she said.

Spring Lake resident Scott Tompkins, one of the many volunteers for the Presbyterian church's tree lot, said they begin each season by ordering 700 trees. If they sell out, they will order more if there is still time before Christmas.

The Spring Lake lot offers Fraser firs, spruces and pines — Tompkins said most people prefer Fraser fir — and Boy Scouts make wreaths.

Once all the trees are paid for, the remaining sale proceeds are donated to nonprofit groups throughout the Tri-Cities. The church donates an average of $10,000 a year from selling trees, Tompkins said.

Some of this year’s recipients will include Love INC, Faith in Action, International Aid, Spring Lake Presbyterian Church Youth, the local hospice, The Salvation Army, The People Center and Presbyterian Women.

Although the lot has only been opened since Nov. 16, Tompkins said they’ve already made enough money to pay for the trees.

While the holidays might be a cash-strapped time for families, Tompkins said making their Christmas tree wishes come true makes him the happiest.

“If we can get someone to smile or be happy, that’s what it’s all about,” he said.

Sarah Jackson volunteered at the tree lot for the first time this year. Despite the chilly temperatures, the Spring Lake woman said it is fun to help families find the perfect tree for their home and family.

“I feel like we’re part of their holiday,” she said.

Being part of a holiday tradition is one of the most enjoyable parts for Linda Prince, of Prince Nursery and Trees in West Olive. The nursery sells pre-cut trees and allows customers to cut down their own at one location.

While it’s work keeping the trees in tip-top shape, seeing the same families come back year after year is a good feeling, Prince said.

“It’s a fun time,” she said.

Karen Tokarski said she’s bought her tree at the Spring Lake Presbyterian Church sale for the past several years. The Spring Lake woman said selecting a tree is important for memories and holding ornaments.

On Saturday, Tokarski bought a 10-foot tree, which she said would take a while to decorate.

“It’s the total package,” she said.

 

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