Marysville News

Christmas trees

Some love fake fir, others the real thing

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Joshua A. Bickel/ThisWeekNEWS
Steve Heimbush runs his hands through the branches of a Christmas tree while using a machine to shake out dead needles at Heimbush Tree Farm on Nov. 30 in Marysville. Along with needles, the machine shakes loose animals that may be nesting inside. One time, Steve said, a mouse fell out while he was shaking a tree. "Ran right across my boot and into the field, " he added.
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Fake or real?

Which way do you lean when you decide to deck the halls?

Marysville resident Abby Helmuth grew up with a fake tree at Christmas time.

"My parents were nervous about real trees and the fire safety. Two years ago, my husband talked me into getting a real tree and I'll never go back," Helmuth said.

Marysville resident Mike Nicholson is the opposite. He grew up with real trees during the holidays.

"Dad had to have one. But we have fake trees since we moved to Marysville due to my family's allergies," said Nicholson.

Allergies seem to be a leading reason for families to put up the "faux fir." But others just can't deny the ambience of the real thing.

The National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) commissioned a poll conducted by Harris Interactive in 2011. The poll found 30.8 million trees were purchased in the United States, with the mean average dollars spent on real trees at $34.87. In contrast, 9.5 million fake trees were bought in 2011, with a mean average of $70.55 per tree.

In the 1800s, German settlers introduced the tabletop-size Christmas tree in the United States. The tradition quickly morphed into floor-to-ceiling trees. In 1883, Sears, Roebuck & Co. began offering the first artificial Christmas trees. Buyers could get 33 limbs for 50 cents and 55 limbs for $1 according to the NCTA.

Marysville Fire Chief Jay Riley sticks to artificial trees in his home for obvious reasons.

"I've witnessed the devastation that a tree fire has on a house and want to protect my family. It is worth the peace of mind," said Riley.

"We respond to Christmas tree fires nearly every year. Almost every time we hear the same thing from the homeowner. 'I've heard stories of Christmas tree fires, but never thought it would happen to me'," Riley said.

For those who say real is worth the risk, Riley offers a few safety tips.

* Don't put your live Christmas tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks.

* Place trees away from heat sources, including fireplaces or heat vents. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks.

* Keep the live tree stand filled with water at all times.

* Use only nonflammable decorations.

* Don't link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it's safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet.

* Ensure that Christmas trees and other holiday decorations don't block an exit way.

The most important thing to remember is to make sure the tree always has water. Residents should check the needles on the tree to make sure they are moist, not dry and brittle, throughout the time it is in your home, Riley said.

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