2 Towns Claim Title Of 'Christmas Tree Capital Of The World'
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Christmas is the time of year when we make memories, but it's
also a time for Christmas tree farmers in Oregon, North Carolina
and Pennsylvania - where most Christmas trees are grown - to claim
bragging rights. And there is a controversy needling the industry -
which town holds the prestigious title of Christmas Tree Capital of
the World? Lucy Perkins of member station WESA in Pittsburgh
LUCY PERKINS, BYLINE: There's no official method for picking out
the best Christmas tree. So, like a lot of people, Laurie Kuzneski
goes on instinct.
LAURIE KUZNESKI: That is a pretty tree. I like it. It's nice and
full. And what kind of these? These are the...
GREGG VAN HORN: Frasier fir.
KUZNESKI: Frasier fir. They smell good. Smells like Christmas
PERKINS: She wanders through Fraiser firs on Van Horn's farm in
Indiana County, Pa., with her family. It doesn't take long to find
the perfect evergreen.
KUZNESKI: Yeah, she's dense. That's a pretty tree.
PERKINS: Gregg Van Horn owns the lot and has been growing firs
like the one Kuzneski picked out for as long as he can
VAN HORN: I was born and raised into it, I guess. It just kind
of gets in your blood. Just seems like this was my purpose, to grow
PERKINS: Christmas trees are deeply rooted in Indiana County.
There was a long tradition of selecting Queen Evergreen every year,
the only person whose beauty eclipsed the beauty of the county's
Christmas conifers. To get to Van Horn's farm, I drove down Tree
Trim Road and past a weathered, cheery sign saying, welcome to
Indiana County - Christmas Tree Capital.
VAN HORN: That's right. We're known as the Christmas Tree
Capital of the World.
PERKINS: The first pines and spruces were planted in the western
Pennsylvania county a hundred years ago, before Christmas trees
were as popular as they are today. Now, Van Horn says, other states
grow way more than they do. But, he says, that doesn't matter.
VAN HORN: We're the only ones that have the signs up along the
road that say, welcome to the Christmas Tree Capital of the
PERKINS: Not to stir the Christmas eggnog, but the Pennsylvania
town isn't the only one with signs claiming the coveted title. Its
challenger comes in the form of a little town in Oregon called
Estacada. This is the mayor, Sean Drinkwine.
SEAN DRINKWINE: When I drove in to Estacada 15 years ago, and I
saw the sign - it said, Christmas Tree Capital of the World. And I
thought to myself, really? That can't be. So I drove around
Estacada, and sure enough, everywhere I looked, there was a
PERKINS: That makes sense because, according to the USDA, Oregon
is the No. 1 Christmas tree grower in the country. And on top of
that, Drinkwine says, the spirit of Christmas in Estacada is
intense, a key component for any capital.
DRINKWINE: It's kind of one of those places you feel like you're
in a Christmas village.
PERKINS: Not so fast says, Gregg Van Horn. He points out that
the Pennsylvania town is the birthplace of actor Jimmy Stewart, and
it hosts the It's A Wonderful Life Festival every year, which only
adds to their Christmas clout. In Oregon, they do nearly the same
thing, but without the bonus of Jimmy Stewart.
VAN HORN: There's everything. Our school bands and choirs come
out to play. We have people singing. We have Santa. We have
everything. And we bring a 25-foot tree in.
PERKINS: The town of Indiana puts up a tree too, but it's five
feet taller. So who wins? Farmer Gregg Van Horn says the title will
always be theirs. He says, even if Indiana County decides to stop
growing Christmas trees one day, they were still first. Back in
Oregon, Estacada Mayor Drinkwine says he would never put the
Pennsylvania town down for having a spirited Christmas.
DRINKWINE: And I wouldn't take that away from them. But I can
honestly tell you, if you've come to Estacada, you've walked our
streets and you've talked to our people and you've felt the
feeling, you will know.
PERKINS: We may never know where the true capital is - Santa was
not available for comment - but maybe that's OK. The more Christmas
trees, the merrier. For NPR News, I'm Lucy Perkins in Indiana, Pa.,
one of several Christmas tree capitals of the world.
Read the artcile here
By Lucy Perkins
Sunday, December 23, 2018