Friday, October 31, 2008

Ghosts for now, trees soon

So, tomorrow is November 1. We're officially 55 days away from Christmas. Some interesting things came up this week and I wanted to post them before going trick or treating with my nieces tonight.

First, the Trees for Troops program just received a major award for community projects which Advance America from American Society of Association Executives at their annual convention. They produced a short video outlining the program. We posted it on our You Tube page...please go have a look .

This tidbit made me sad.....NOT! Apparently fake tree factories in China are facing fewer orders and tough financial times. AWWWWWW. This article at Report on Business dot com
included this quote:
"U.S. clients are asking for cheaper Christmas trees this year, he said. But his company is squeezed between its falling revenue and rising costs, slashing its profit to 10 to 15 per cent from more than 20 per cent in the past. Its work force has fallen 15 per cent and overtime is sharply down."

In a related topic, I had several inquiries this week from business reporters asking about prices of trees and effect of economy on purchases of the real thing, farm-grown fresh Christmas trees. Here's what I tell them: people in the business on the retail lot end will say that economy doesn't really have that much impact on tree purchases because people will not sacrifice such an important tradition no matter how tight their budget may be. We also know that no matter what the state of the economy, tree prices always vary by a great deal based on many, many factors. No matter what, you can probably go just about anywhere in the U.S. and find farm-grown trees ranging from $15 up to $200. I always tell people, if price is your #1 determining factor, then shop around.

If you see any news reports claiming that "trees will cost $_____ this year...blah blah" just ignore them. Nobody can predict what price tags will be on trees.

And finally, I caught this silly fake tree guy from some company called Christmas Central dot com paying for "news" releases this week, then posting the same drivel at bloggeron dot net. I say drivel very dirisively because it is filled with nothing but lies and misinformation. This is nothing new of course, fake tree people have been lying about their product and farm-grown trees for years in order to get people to buy their stuff.

Next week, we'll start doing more regular posts. And we'll start with some new data from the National Fire Protection Association's report on home fires involving Christmas trees.

For now, Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

White House Christmas Tree Selected

One of the coolest things that the national Christmas Tree Association does is present the official White House Christmas Tree to the first lady each year. This is the tree that is displayed in the Blue Room of the White House, holds hand-made ornaments from around the country, is often the backdrop for interviews with the First Lady during the Holiday Season, and is often featured in HGTV’s White House Christmas Special.

Members of the White House Staff visited River Ridge Tree Farm in Ashe County, North Carolina today to select the tree that will be the focal point of the White House decorations this year. But the road to the White House began many years ago for partners Jessie Davis and Rusty Estes. Davis has been planting Christmas trees since high school, and Estes got into the business in 1979.

And the tree itself has waited may years to acheive greatness. The 20-foot Fraser fir was planted some 20 years ago, and stand among 40 or so magnificent peers.

Admiral Steve Rochon, Director of the Executive Residence and Chief Usher of the White House said that the selection was particularly difficult this year because there were so many beautiful trees to choose from. The Blue Room Christmas Tree has to be a minimum of 18 ½ feet tall, so it will reach from floor to ceiling. Most Christmas Trees are harvested long before they reach that height, but Davis and Estes had a number of perfect trees to fit the bill.

The tree selected edged out the competition because it had lots of lush, thick foliage, a deep green color, and strong branches to hold the heavy ornaments that the White House will use this year. The decorating theme for the White House is a closely held secret each year, but because of the size of the tree, it’s not unusual for many of the ornaments to be 8 inches or more in diameter, with some being much heavier than most people use in their homes.

Davis and Estes won the honor of providing this special tree to the White House by winning the National Christmas Tree contest in August. In order to qualify to enter that competition, they had to win the North Carolina Christmas Tree Associations Tree contest last year. At the national level, the tree from River Ridge Tree Farm was judged the best of show by both fellow tree growers and consumers.

Davis and Estes will present the tree to Mrs. Bush in a ceremony at the White House on November 30 at 3 pm Eastern. Check back for updates on the tree and the family!

Thanks to everyone that covered or watched this story, which ran in 19 States that we know of (Alabama, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin) plus the District of Columbia. The Nielsen Audience for this story topped 2.9 million viewers!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

possible energy savings?

got an interesting email this weekend about another angle to consider in the fake vs real tree debate (which is over in my mind)

From: tulis@
Sent: Saturday, October 11, 2008 7:32 PM
Subject: Another fact...

I have been reading your pages about artificial vs. real trees - another point to consider is that real trees save energy. Fake trees go up after Thanksgiving and don't come down until after New Years. Most real trees are only up about two and half weeks or so. The lights plus all those movable ornaments use up losts of electricity...

well, that's an interesting consideration...although, with no real way to quantify it, putting it up on a chart of facts is probably not a good idea. I'd have to say this about the theory:
- Thanksgiving moves backward 1 day on the calendar each year, except leap years, and then jumps forward either 5 or 6 days every 6 years. For example, in 2007 it was on November 22, and this year it will be on Nov 27.
- we simply don't know when people put up a tree and I suspect it varies greatly each and every much so, that there's probably not much of a standard deviation
-those small tree light strings actually use very little electricity, energy savings would be negligible

I think the main point that escapes most people's thought process is what happens to all fake trees eventually. Because people say they use one for many years, but eventually they will ALL BE THROWN AWAY. And they will sit in landfills for eons never decomposing. That's the real environmental burden, and that's only post-use.

Rick Dungey

what do you think? your comments on whether there's an energy savings by having a farm-grown Christmas tree up for shorter periods of time.