Bel Air Lions kick off holiday season with Christmas tree sale opening

Contact Reporterebutler@theaegis.com

A sure sign that Christmas is coming was Saturday’s opening of the Bel Air Lions Club Christmas tree sale.

After nearly 80 students helped members of the Bel Air Lions Club unload 1,500 trees shipped from West Jefferson, N.C., Bel Air Mayor Susan Burdette was the first to buy a tree.

And she was the first to put it through the baler.

Trees will be on sale daily until they’re sold out, which is typically between Dec. 10 and 14, said Dave Ellis, chair of the sale.

The lot by Route 24 and Bolton Street, across from the Kelly athletic fields, is open 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Fraser firs are $60 each, regardless of size, which ranges from 6 to 9 feet.

“They’e one size fits all,” Ellis said.

Also for sale are Christmas tree stands for $5. Greens trimmed from the trees sold are also available for free.

All proceeds from the sales go back into the town, Ellis said.

The goal for the Lions Club’s biggest fundraiser of the year is $23,000, Ellis said.

Ellis took over as chair this year when Harold Boccia stepped down after chairing the sale for 22 years.

Burdette presented Boccia a proclamation on behalf of the Town of Bel Air thanking him for his service.

“It’s been a labor of love for 22 years,” Boccia said.

About 60 percent of the people who buy trees from the Lions are return customers, club members said.

“What’s very impressive to me is the community,” said Jack Hartman, who’s a member of the Lions along with his wife. “There are third generation families buying Christmas trees out here.”

Cut Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, the trees arrived in Bel Air Saturday morning, and were greeted by nearly 80 student volunteers who helped unload them.

Bel Air Police Department Explorers Post 9010 and Bel Air Boy Scout Troop 313 sent contingents of volunteers, as did Bel Air High School, with students from the swim team, boys basketball team, boys and girls lacrosse teams and National Honor Society helping to cart trees from the three delivery trucks to the stands.

“The kids are great, they love it and really look forward to it,” Bel Air Lions Club President Dave Guzewich said. “It’s fun. I think they enjoy the community service and it gets them into the Christmas spirit.”

They started at 8 a.m. and unloaded a truck an hour, he said. Everything was wrapped up by 11 a.m.

A National Guard recruiter, still dressed in her BDUs, stopped by to help unload and tag the trees and residents at the Mann House were also helping out.

Besides Lions Club members, who are all volunteers, other volunteers will be manning the sales daily. Anyone interested in helping out can call Boccia at 410-931-0580.

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