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Springlike temperatures don't deter people from buying Christmas trees

Factors such as shade and early morning dew are helping to keep trees alive after their fresh cuts.

Michael Bohorquez wasn't sure he liked buying a Christmas tree in 70-degree weather.

"The plus side is that the kids get to play outside," said Bohorquez, of Phoenix, touring the tree lot at Valley View Farms in Cockeysville Saturday with his wife, Brooke, while their sons, Lucas, 2, and Solomon, 8, played hide and seek among the tall Fraser firs.

"At the same time, this is not right," he said, dressed more for spring than winter. "This is so odd."

"It doesn't quite feel like Christmas," said his wife, "but we still get in the spirit. The holidays are a special time of year."

Unseasonably warm weather at the height of the holiday season has not slowed sales of Christmas trees, or kept most people from getting into a festive mood, say workers at seasonal tree stands and their customers. It was business as usual at most of the tree stands the Towson Times visited Friday and Saturday in Baltimore County.

At Valley View, a large crowd milled outside, enjoying a kettle corn stand and springlike temperatures. The only people hard at work were employees wrapping trees with netting and tying them to the roofs of cars — and they were having a fine time, too. In fact, they said they preferred the warm weather to the alternative.

"We're enjoying it just because it's not snowing," said worker Jack Strickland.

"It's miserable when it's cold," said co-worker Wyatt Leith.

A longtime tree lot on Stevenson Lane in Rodgers Forge opened the day after Thanksgiving, and most of the trees for sale received their "fresh cuts" around that time.

"By now, they're a little dry," said Jeff Nicoll, owner of Nicoll's Tree Farm in Keyser, W. Va., who has been in business for 54 years and has been selling trees at the lot in Towson for 48 years. "There's probably more shedding that will take place than normal."

But he and longtime employee Frank Miller, of Phoenix, said the trees will bounce back with regular watering and are being refreshed by a daily early morning dew.

"The Frasers hold up well and so do the pines," Miller said. He and Nicoll noted that the 1.5-acre lot is shaded for most of the day. They also noted, as perspective, that the current heat wave pales in comparison to one seven to 10 years ago, when it was so warm for so long during the holidays that they used a special machine to hose down the trees and give them a good soaking.

"It was that warm," Nicoll said.

Buying an 8-foot Douglas fir with her family at a longtime lot at St. Pius X Catholic Church on York Road in Towson, Posey Vallis wasn't too worried about the weather and didn't feel a need to wait for colder weather to get her in the mood for the holidays.

"If you surround your tree with love, nothing will happen to it," said the Roland Park resident. She said the family makes a point of buying trees at the lot to help raise money for St. Pius and its school.

"People are actually coming out sooner than they normally would, because the weather's so nice," said Mark Des Marais, a former youth minister at the church, who wore a red and white cap with a pompom and the words, "Who's your Santa?"

Des Marais said he has been operating the tree lot since 1976, when the church's pastor at the time, the Rev. Jay O'Connor, now monsignor at Our Lady of the Fields in Millersville, said, "Mark, we need a fundraiser."

Des Marais said he sold 1,550 Christmas trees last year and isn't worried about the weather affecting tree sales this year. But he acknowledged it might dampen some people's spirits.

"I'm from Minnesota," he said as he tied an 8-foot Fraser fir to Homeland resident Mike Maloney's car. "It's tough for me to get in the spirit. I'm actually sweating."

Maloney said he grew up in New England. "A lot of people have been saying it doesn't feel like Christmas, but it doesn't bother me," he said.

It didn't bother Heather Halverson, of Rodgers Forge, either. "It's much more pleasant to get the tree this way," rather than in the cold, she said.

But her son, Ryan, 11, said, "I do want it to get a little bit colder. I love playing in the snow."

Carley Dyer, of Towson Manor Village, bought an 8-foot Fraser fir at Radebaugh Florist and Greenhouse with the help of her friend, Jeff Hann, of Belair. "I'm a little disappointed it's so warm, but you have to get it done. It's time," said Dyer, 33, who never owned a real trees while growing up in temperate Okinawa, Japan.

For Radebaugh customers Margaret Allen and Philip Perkins, of Homeland, it wasn't too early or warm to shop for a tree.

"We go by the calendar. It has nothing to do with the weather," said Allen, adding, "I'm from California. This is wonderful."

"I hate cold weather," said Jackie Brown, who bought a 7-foot Douglas fir at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium. "I'm pretending we're in Hawaii," she said.

But she said her sister doesn't feel the same way and posted on Facebook that she didn't like the warm weather because it didn't feel like Christmas.

"It's insane, but it's bringing out a lot of people," said lot co-owner Kathy Green "And everybody's comments are that it doesn't feel like Christmas and we need it to be warmer."

But back at Valley View Farms, customer Phil Jackson, of Baldwin, said, "When you're putting lights outside, it's a lot easier. I'll take it."

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