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Lions offer Christmas firs

Lions Club member Frank Votry helps Beth Hubbard, Nikki Longstaff and Mary Till pick out the perfect Christmas tree. - Marcie Miller
Lions Club member Frank Votry helps Beth Hubbard, Nikki Longstaff and Mary Till pick out the perfect Christmas tree.
— image credit: Marcie Miller

Too short, too tall, too bushy, just right.

Mary Till and her tree-picking team were being very particular as they perused the rows of Christmas trees offered at the Oak Harbor Lions Club Christmas tree lot Monday.

Till was looking for a tree in the six- to seven-foot range, and not too fat. Something that would be just right for her lights and ornaments.

“We’ve always had a natural tree,” Till said.

But this year, following brain surgery, she didn’t think she was up to the physical exertion of buying, setting up and decorating a live tree.

Her suggestion to go with an artificial tree did not set well with her large family.

“It was a royal battle,” she said.

The family reached a compromise when they promised to do the set up and the lights and leave the crucial job of ornament placement to Till.

“I’m very picky,” she said.

Granddaughter Nikki Longstaff and friend Beth Hubbard helped Till select the perfect tree, one of 600 the Lions Club has for sale on the lot across from Safeway Plaza.

They went with a Canaan fir, which lot supervisor Frank Votry said was a stiffer tree than the popular Douglas fir, but not as pricey as the “elite” Noble fir.

Trees on the lot range in price from $15 to $65. Christmas tree sales chairman Jim Trask said the project is the Lions Club’s biggest fundraiser of the year, with sales usually in the $6,000 range.

Not a bad take for one month, but it’s all for a good cause.

Money raised goes to the community account, which is distributed to many projects in the area, such as free eyeglasses, and Camp Horizon for special needs children.

Votry and his wife Sharron were just two of the volunteers who work a three-hour shift daily at the lot.

“The members really look forward to being with the public,” Sharron Votry said. “And we really appreciate that the community supports us.”

First-day sales were brisk on Sunday, with $1,300 worth of trees sold. A large number of those were Noble firs, and Trask thinks that may be a result of reports that there was a shortage of the variety this year.

Last year three of the eight- to nine-foot Noble firs languished on the lot, so this year they only ordered one. The $65 tree sold the first day.

Trask said the Noble is his personal favorite, as its graceful, wide-open branch structure is perfect for hanging old-fashioned ornaments.

The Christmas tree industry is dominated by the sheared Douglas fir, which has a full look. Trask says while the shape is good for lights, it can be hard to hang ornaments from the branches.

The Lions lot offers five varieties of evergreens, all fresh from the Bellingham area. In addition to the Noble, Douglas and Canaan firs, they have Fraser and Grand firs.

While the Fraser is very similar to the Canaan, the Grand fir has flat needles and a fragrant, woodsy aroma.

The Lions Club Christmas Tree lot is in a new location this year, with Steve and Vint Waldron donating the use of their vacant lot on Highway 20, just north of Barrington Drive.

The lot is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and will continue until early Christmas Eve or they run out of trees, whichever comes first.

“If you want a tree, we’re here,” Sharron Votry said.

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