By Val Simon
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Troop #234 have started their annual tradition of selling fresh Christmas trees in the familiar tent on San Marco Road next to the Ace Hardware store. A farm in North Carolina grows the trees, cuts, loads and then drives them to Marco Island over Thanksgiving Day. Bright and early the day after Thanksgiving, while others are still out Black Friday shopping, the trees are being unloaded and set up by the scouts. According to Rick Grootveld, Scout Master, the troop ordered 200 trees this year. “Each year we try to determine the appropriate number of trees to sell. The highest we’ve ordered is 300. This year, we ordered 200 taking the economy into consideration.”
The troop opens the tent after school on weekdays (4:00 PM to 6:30 PM) and on weekends (9:00 AM to 6:00 PM). “It’s our goal to have sold all the trees by the 17th of December before the street parade. One year, our last tree was sold at 6:00 PM on December 24th. We’d like to be sold out before then!” According to Jim Chute, “Condee Cooling and Electric always helps us get connected to electric service, compliments of Sunshine Ace Hardware next door. Ace Hardware has always supported the troop, as well. John and Renee Perry still own the lot and the troop is very grateful to them for allowing us to use it. “When we sell a tree, we trim the off the bottom just before the tree leaves the lot so it can absorb water. We can help you get the tree on your vehicle or, we offer delivery service. Keep in mind, deliveries have to be scheduled ahead.”
The funds raised support the troop throughout the year. “It is definitely a tradition. It’s almost 25 years in the making and we see many of the same faces every year. The trees are fragrant and beautiful. One year the trees still had snow on them when they were unloaded,” said Linda Chute. The trees are sold according to height from $50.00 for a 5’ tree to $100.00 for 9’ and above.