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Making it look like Christmas

The 1st Elmira Scouts have long used Elmira’s Gore Park as a base of operations for their sale of Christmas trees, which are about to kick into high gear. [Veronica Reiner / The Observer]

It’s a sure-fire sign that the holidays are fast approaching: the 1st Elmira Scouts are selling Christmas trees in Gore Park, continuing a longstanding tradition.

There have been some 360 Christmas trees up for grabs at the  Arthur Street location since the Scouts got things up and running on November 17.

“It is a major fundraiser for both the group and the youth,” said 1st Elmira Scouts co-commissioner Philip Bertrand. “A lot of youth… this is how they pay for their camping, or trips. This is how they would earn their adventures.”

After all expenses, the group brings in somewhere between $5,000 and $6,000 on average per year. The money has previously funded a variety activities that the Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, Rovers and Ventures take on. It has funded a Ventures weeklong trip to Killarney, as well as a youth trip to Algonquin Park last summer.

The trees come from Somerville Nurseries near Barrie, ranging in price between $40-75. There are a variety of tree type options to choose from.              

“We have everything from 5-6 footers, all the way up to 10-12 footers,” said Bertrand.

“We have a range of quality of the trees. We have the premium number one Frasers which are really good for retaining moisture and needles. Balsam is the next level down; it’s a very good but more reasonably priced than the Frasers.”

Others on offer in the lower price range include the bright green coloured scotch pine, one of the most commonly used species in the United States, and the dark green Norway spruce.

All age levels of 1st Elmira Scouts contribute their time and effort to this fundraiser, from Beavers to Ventures. Bertrand said that he expects sales to pick up soon as Christmas Day nears.

“It starts off slow; a lot of the bigger trees have gone already,” said Bertrand. “It usually starts picking up this coming weekend and then next weekend. Now that we’re a month away from Christmas, it’ll really start to pick up.”

The tree fundraiser is a longstanding tradition in the community, and used to be run by a local service club before it was passed on to the 1st Elmira Scouts when the club disbanded.

“Jaycees had started it … that goes way, way back. When the Jaycees closed up, we passed it on to the Scouts … that’s how that went,” explained Phil Read of Read’s Decorating Centre.

Co-commissioner of 1st Elmira Scouts Brian Soehner has long been involved with the tree fundraiser, and will continue this year.

“Brian is still involved in a support role. For health reasons, he’s not as heavily involved as he was in the past,” said Bertrand. “But he’s still a member of our group and we still value his contribution.”

Volunteers will be manning the booth at the Gore Park location Monday to Friday 6-9 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Sundays in November, the hours will run 12-6 p.m., while Sundays in December will start at 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. For mid-week daytime sales, visit Read’s Decorating Centre in Elmira on Arthur Street.

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