As the first truckload of noble and Douglas firs arrived at the Davis Boy Scouts’ annual Christmas tree lot Friday morning, the fragrance, cheer and chill in the air breathed life into the holiday season.
Members of Davis Boy Scout Troops 66, 111, 139, 199 and 466 and Venture Crews 66 and 111 worked to unload the trees, ranging from 3 to 12 feet tall, at the lot at Cowell and Mace boulevards in South Davis.
With a white Christmas outside the realm of possibility, the opening of the Boy Scouts’ tree lot has served as the city’s indicator of the beginning of the holidays since the early 1960s.
“If we weren’t out here, the tree lot wouldn’t happen,” said Eric Smith, a 14-year-old Scout who has done his part to spread mulch in the lot, prepare trees and help customers with purchases for the past two years.
Besides ringing in the holidays, the tree lot acts as the Scouts’ biggest fundraiser. Proceeds from the sale of the trees go directly to pay for the troop and crew activities of Davis Boy Scouts, like Smith.
“This year I’m looking forward to Philmont (Scout Ranch),” Smith said. “That’s going to be a backpacking trip, and it’s really fun.”
Putting the local Boy Scout groups in charge of the operation teaches the young men a great deal about responsibility, said Jim Borchers, this year’s lot foreman.
“Besides that, it’s a great bonding experience,” Borchers added. “They are all from five different troops in Davis. They really have to work together — carrying the trees and making sure they are organized.
“Then, when it comes time to sell the trees, all the money that is made or donated goes to pay for their summer camps. They all have that goal in mind, so it really makes it both a month of determination and fun.”
There were 600 firs in the initial load, but the Scouts have ordered 1,850 total — set to be shipped in bundles Saturday and the week after. A total of 2,000 trees were sold last year.
Elaine Kasimatis, a longtime Davis resident and local educator, was one of the first customers to search through the fresh trees. Her family has come to the Scout lot for as she can remember, she said.
“My family bought their trees from here originally, because my brothers were all Boy Scouts,” Kasimatis said. “It was an important part of their lives. … I try to shop for as many locally bred things as I can.”
The Scouts also will sell hand-crafted 22-inch wreaths of noble fir, cedar and juniper decorated with pine cones and bows, along with mistletoe sprays, evergreen boughs, tree stands and tree preservative. Customers are invited to bring canned goods for donation to the Short Term Emergency Aid Committee’s food closet.
The tree lot is open from 1 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 7 p.m. Sundays. It will remain open until Christmas Eve, or whenever the trees are sold out.
Justin Borchard, a 12-year-old in Davis Boy Scout Troop 111, summarized well his support of the organization’s community-based fundraising project before returning to work on the opening day:
“We like to give back to the community, and they do the same thing in return. … Thank you for supporting the Boy Scout community, and buying these trees.”
— Reach Brett Johnson at email@example.com or 530-747-8052.