Finding that perfect Christmas tree is a holiday tradition for many families. A Harrisburg family has been providing that special opportunity for over two decades.
Money may not grow on trees, but memories do for Steve Ford and his family.
“We have a long tradition, we used to live in New York and there was a place we’d go and cut our own tree, they had sleds and snowball fights, pick the tree, but now with the kids all grown up and with just the two youngest, we still like to go to the country and pick our own,” Steve Ford said.
This year they decided to make the trip from Vermillion to buy a tree at Christmas Tree Acres near Harrisburg.
16-year-old Becca Ford helped pick it out. She says it’s perfect.
“We got all our decorations out yesterday, we’ll decorate it tonight,” Becca said.
Decorating is what Colleen Johns is all about. She and her husband Larry own and operate Christmas Tree Acres. “We got started about 25 or 26 years ago as an FFA project for our boys,” Colleen said.
Little did they know that FFA project would turn into a seasonal side job. They joined a Christmas Tree Association and began planting pine trees of all kinds on their 10 acres. Just like their trees, their small family owned business quickly grew into a favorite hot spot for wintertime festivities.
They even have their own Santa on their acreage who greets and takes pictures with young children. Larry’s dad, Stan Johns, had been playing the role of Santa for 20 years until he got too old. Their Christmas Tree farm has changed over the years. Because their boys are all grown up, planting and pruning the trees got to be a little too much to handle. So now they have fresh cut trees shipped in from Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin.
“Of course we had some die-hards, who still wanted to cut down that tree and give their kids that experience, because they started coming here when they were kids.”
But Colleen says her customers are still faithful and keep coming back year after year. “I think it’s the country atmosphere.”
But it’s not just the trees that bring people here.
“My couple of months are, I make crafts, I have a craft shop in here and I do a lot of crafts myself and I have a variety of things, I’m a jack of all trades in there.”
Her store, Merry Carroll’s, seems appropriate for the season, but it’s actually named after her mother, Mary Carroll who died 22 years ago. From snowmen to signs to other Christmas decor, you can find just about anything in here to help decorate your home.
Even though this small family owned business has changed a little over the years, the one thing that remains the same for Colleen are the memories of the people who come to pick out a tree that plants the seed for the next generation.
“We enjoy seeing all the families come back year after year,”
The Christmas trees range in price from $36 to $169. Colleen says they usually sell about four to five hundred during the holiday season.