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Fir always flies when it's Christmas tree season

November 29, 1997

Fir always flies when it's Christmas tree season

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer

Eddie Van Metre watched as his two young daughters, bundled up in coats and hats on a misty morning in late November, run laughing between the rows of Christmas trees.

"We wanted the girls to get out and have the experience of running around and cutting the Christmas tree down," said Van Metre, 34, of Williamsport.

He and his wife, Suzy Van Metre, followed after the giggling girls, Rachel, 5, and Veronica, 1 1/2, as they looked for the perfect tree for them - one not too tall, but still big enough to hold their large collection of ornaments.

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Rachel had been so excited when they told her Friday night that they were going to get the tree that she had trouble getting to sleep, he said.

They picked a six-foot tall tree, and as Eddie Van Metre tied the bundled tree to the roof of his vehicle, the girls went to look at the nearby Mount Hope Farms chickens and ducks in their coops.

Tree farms like Mount Hope Farms on Mount Tabor Road north west of Hagerstown saw early customers Saturday.

The first weekend after Thanksgiving has become the unofficial start of Christmas tree shopping season, said Danny Blickenstaff, who owns Mount Hope Farms with his wife, Sharon Blickenstaff.

"It seems like more and more people are buying their trees earlier," Sharon Blickenstaff said.

In the past, many people would "tag" trees, picking out the one they wanted and tying a tag around it to cut down later, she said.

But it seems like more people are now cutting the trees down and taking them home, she said.

Charles Downs, owner of Montpelier Christmas Tree Farm on Broadfording Road in Clear Spring, said he believes the trend toward people putting up their Christmas trees earlier comes because stores start decorating earlier each year.

"That puts people in the Christmas spirit earlier," he said.

The Blickenstaffs provide free coffee, hot chocolate and hot cider for their customers. Many of the customers make the trip a family outing, they said.

The children can look at the llamas, chickens and dogs in their pens. Sharon Blickenstaff rewarded the llamas with carrots when they did not spit at two young boys who got close to their fence.

Danny Blickenstaff said large groups sometimes will make the trip to the tree farm together.

A few years ago, a couple on their way home to Virginia from Ohio saw the signs and stopped to pick up their Christmas tree there, he said.

The next year they returned with a neighbor, he said. Now there is a caravan of dozens of families in vans and cars, he said. They make a day of it by picking their trees, then eating lunch at a nearby restaurant, he said.

Corrinna Poet, 34, and Ron Poet, 36, of Clear Spring, walked through the rows of trees looking for a compromise.

"I look for a big, full, fat tree and she looks for a tall, skinny tree," Ron Poet said.

"We like the idea of cutting them fresh," he said.

"The kids like running through the fields," Corrinna Poet said. They were their with their children, Chris, 8, and Amy, 6.

The Poets said they normally get their tree right after Thanksgiving.

They said that if they keep it watered enough, then the tree stays fresh through New Year's Day.

"My wife would get it in October if she had her way," Ron Poet said.

Terry Hamby, 50, and Wanda Hamby, 49, of Cearfoss, said they intended to tag a tree and return closer to Christmas to cut it down.

"We like a fresh cut tree so there's no chance of burning up the house," Terry Hamby said.

Wanda Hamby said she like to keep the tree up as long as she can into January.

"Then it's so pretty I don't like to take it down," she said.

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