Black Friday is a big deal for Jerry Tosoni. And he's not even a big shopper.
Instead of fighting the lines at the mall, he'll be cutting down Christmas trees for families at his tree farm, Frosty Pines Christmas Trees, just outside of Omaha. The farm opens for the Christmas season Friday.
“There's just something about cutting down your own tree,” said Tosoni, who has run the tree farm for more than 20 years. “It smells and looks better than anything you can buy at a grocery store.”
Frosty Pines won't be the only tree farm open for business the day after Thanksgiving. This weekend marks the opening for many other farms throughout Iowa and Nebraska, with each adding its own charm aside from the trees.
Take a look at Santa's Woods in Blair, which offers hay-rack rides and a Christmas lights display. Bennington Pines, in Bennington, offers tractor rides and free hot cocoa to customers.
Though Frosty Pines doesn't have anything flashy, Tosoni said he wants to create a tradition for families.
“We're just after giving a very family-oriented experience,” said Tosoni, who expects to sell 700 to 1,000 trees before Christmas.
Going out in the cold to cut down a tree may not be for everyone. Some prefer the natural tree to the artificial, and that's where the local grocery and garden centers come in. Many stores in the Omaha area have already begun stocking trees.
Earl May Nursery & Garden Center in Omaha offers a wide variety of trees and expects to sell more than 400, according to associate manager Rick Ravis.
Cirian's Farmers Market on Leavenworth Street expects to sell more, between 1,200 and 1,400. It offers regular and powder-painted trees, which come in a variety of colors. Both Earl May and Cirian's buy their trees from farms in Michigan.
Austin Cirian, an employee of five years, has seen kids grow up before his eyes as the same families come back each year. That kind of tradition is important to him, he said.
“You can't even say fake tree down here,” Cirian said.
Tree selection and maintenance
» Decide where the tree will go before going out to pick one. This will help determine the height and width of the tree you pick.
» Choose a location away from heat sources, such as a fireplace or radiator.
» Select a tree with a straight trunk. This will make it easier to fit in the stand.
» To test the freshness of a tree, which will determine how long it will last, lift the tree by the trunk and lightly bounce the butt on the ground. A fresh tree will drop only a few needles. The needles on a fresh tree will be pliable. Those on a dry tree will be brittle.
» If you don't set up the tree immediately, place it in a cool, sheltered location like an unheated garage or shed. Put the butt of the tree in a bucket of water.
» Before bringing the tree in the house, cut off the bottom 1 inch of the tree's trunk. A fresh cut will increase water uptake.
» Do not add molasses, sugar, soft drinks, aspirin or commercial products to the water. Just make sure to keep the water reservoir full.