New Castle News

December 13, 2012

Tree Time: Should you go live this Christmas? Or fake it? We’ll break it down

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Christmas tree selection is a personal preference.

And the artificial-vs.-live tree debate is almost even.

It also raises the question of how to spend the green for which type of green — fake or real?

For Mike and Fran Occhibone, artificial is the way to go. In their East Side home, there are usually about nine or 10 decorated Christmas trees of various sizes.

The Occhibones initially purchased live trees, but their sons, now 8 and 10, developed allergies so they made a change.

Frasier firs are preferred by James Brammer, owner of Green Earth Tree Care in Poland, Ohio, who has also sold Christmas trees.

“They have softer needles and are what I consider the classic shape of a Christmas tree,” Brammer informed.

While spruce are cheaper, “Frasiers keep water better than spruce, which die faster and are messier to deal with.”

Cut live trees in general, can cost between $30 and $60, he pointed out, adding that prices depend on height and variations of color.

“Some people want the perfect tree and don’t care about price. And others just want one to fit in their budget.”

With any live tree, there are safety concerns.

If you allow your tree to get dry, it can become a tinder box,” said Tom Maciarello, chief of the New Castle Fire Department.

After all, the season is not meant to end in tragedy, but to be joyous.

Fred Chiaverini wants that to happen, too.

He helps operate the seven-acre Chiaverini’s Tree Farm in Shenango Township.

Frasier firs hold ornaments well, he said, but Chiaverini also grows and sells white, Norway and Colorado blue spruce trees.

Tree shopping is still a fun family event for some.

“People walk through the field, select the tree they want, and we cut it for them and take it to their car.”

At Zeigler’s Christmas Trees in Hickory Township, owner Mark Zeigler deals in Canaan firs and Colorado blue spruce. He indicated that prices range from $15 to $30.

“People can cut their own, too and we provide saws.”

Pre-cut, fresh cut, and balled and burlapped trees for replanting later are available, Zeigler pointed out.

He is firm concerning the live vs. fake argument.

“Live trees look better.”

Artificial trees outsell live ones 60 percent to 40 percent at Kraynak’s in Hermitage, said Dan Zippie, store manager.  

Customers can spend from about $60 for a 7 1/2-ft. tree or as much as $500 and sizes run from 2- to 12-ft., he continued.

“It all depends on whether it is pre-lit and the number of tips.”

Kraynak’s also sells varieties of live firs, spruce and pines, and “Some purists still want that for the aroma and remembrances of childhood.”

Zippie, who has an artificial tree in his home, said, “In the long run, artificial trees are cost effective.”

At the Occhibones, there’s no worry of watering or falling needles.

But for those who set up a live tree early, follow the guidelines so it takes you through the Yuletide.



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Christmas Tree Safety Tips:

•Water a live tree every day.

•Make sure the tree is cut at an angle and placed in a tree holder.

•All lights should be Underwriter’s Laboratory approved.

•Never leave a lit tree unattended, turn off the lights before going to bed and don’t overload circuits.

•Keep heaters, candles and flammable items away from trees.

•To keep live trees lasting three to four weeks, get a fresh cut of 2 to 3 inches made in the bottom to absorb water.

(Sources: Tom Maciarello, chief of the New Castle Fire Department, Dave Allegro, chief of the Taylor Township Volunteer Fire Department and James Brammer, owner of Green Earth Tree Care.)