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Optimist Clubs receive Christmas tree shipment

Sunday, November 22, 2009

(Photo)
Andrew Ward, a Boy Scout with Jackson Troop 311, helps unload balsam fir trees Saturday at Town Plaza in Cape Girardeau. Optimist Clubs in Cape Girardeau and Jackson will be selling the Christmas trees.
(Fred Lynch)
Hundreds of Christmas trees were unloaded Saturday at the Cape Girardeau and Jackson Optimist Club lots, continuing a holiday tradition that started more than 50 years ago.

The Cape Girardeau club received 225 trees were unloaded at the Cape Girardeau lot. Jackson received 250 trees

"The Christmas tree lot has been in existence in Cape Girardeau since at least 1955," said Kristin Ham, chairwoman of the Cape Girardeau Christmas tree lot.

Money raised from the Cape Girardeau lot will help fund area programs such as the group's youth bowling program and church league basketball, the Project Charlie drug awareness program and Youth in Government Day.

The Jackson tree lot is operated by Boy Scout Troop 311. For more than 50 years the Optimists have sponsored this troop.

"We buy the trees for the Boy Scouts. That is our donation to them for the year. They keep all the profits made from the lot. We have been sponsoring this troop since the 1950s," said Joe Thompson, Christmas tree chairman for the Optimist Club of Jackson.

This year's trees range from 4 to 10 feet tall. Ham said the least expensive trees are from 4 to 5 feet tall and have a lighter density.

All of the trees are balsam fir trees from Nova Scotia, Canada. Thompson said all trees on both lots were cut down Tuesday morning before being loaded for delivery. He said some of the trees were still damp from frost when they reached Cape Girardeau on Saturday.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, the now-crowded tree lot will thin out considerably.

"I hope to sell all the trees. We sold all but one last year. We are hoping for a good Christmas tree sale this year," Ham said.

While the total sales from the tree lot exceed $7,000 and the Optimist Club makes close to $3,500 in profit, Ham said sales in recent years have not been as high as they once were. She said as artificial trees grow in popularity, there is talk of discontinuing the lot. It has become such a part of local holiday tradition, however, that the Optimists do not want to stop it.

The Christmas tree lot in the Town Plaza parking lot will be open 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

There is a drop box and envelopes to allow those wanting to purchase a tree after hours to select and pay for a tree using the "honor system."

"It is basically a 24-hour operation," Ham said.

The Jackson lot at the American Ice Cream stand on Hope Street has already sold one of the 250 trees.

"A lady from Old Appleton saw us unloading and asked if we were open. She told us how much she wanted to spend and we showed her where to find a tree," Thompson said.

The Optimist Club of Jackson Christmas tree lot operates 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday. There is also an honor system for after-hours shopping.


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