Now that turkeys have been gobbled up in homes across Central Texas, another holiday icon is popping up in houses: Christmas trees.
Along with the season comes the age old debacle: Real or artificial.
For the Walker family, the answer is easy.
“This will be our first real tree since I was kid,” said Stacy Walker, mother of three and a Heights resident. “A real tree just smells like Christmas and you can’t get that from a plastic one.”
Walker’s outlook is music to Michigan tree farmer Doug Warner’s ears.
For the past four years, he’s made the two-day trip to Texas from Michigan to sell Christmas trees he grows on his Michigan tree farm.
Warner, 45, learned about Harker Heights through his stepfather, Gordon Tessman, who has operated a Christmas tree lot in Copperas Cove for 30 years. Tessman also lives in Michigan and transports trees from his home to Texas during “tree season.”
“The people here are really friendly and I’ve developed a loyal customer base,” he said of why he comes back to Heights every year. “People saw us setting up and brought us Thanksgiving dinners.”
This year he brought more than 600 trees, ranging in price from $18 to $130. He carries white pines, Scotch pines, Fraser firs and Douglas firs. His crew will wrap the trees and affix them to car roofs for no extra charge.
His top seller every year is the Fraser fir, which he refers to as the “Cadillac of Christmas trees.”
“This species doesn’t shed needles, it holds up real well and it has really strong branches to hold heavier ornaments,” he said.
Warner has been in the Christmas tree business since he was 14. Despite being confined to a wheelchair since a head-on collision left him paralyzed from the waist down when he was 26, he hasn’t slowed down. During “tree season” he can be seen wheeling around his lot tending to his trees.
“Growing trees is in my blood,” he said. “Real Christmas trees have been a tradition in my family and I am happy to help people start the tradition in their homes here in Texas.”
Warner and his trees arrive the day before Thanksgiving and he will stay until Dec. 21 or until he sells out. He is open from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. everyday and accepts cash and checks. The lot is in the Market Heights Shopping Center across from Dick’s Sporting Goods.