Busy opening weekend at Christmas tree farm as Floridians welcome holidays

It's still the week before Thanksgiving, but at a Dade City Christmas tree farm, the holidays are starting a little earlier this year.

“People are so glad that Christmas is here,” said Ergle Christmas Tree Farm’s Anthony Harris. “They want their tree up, they want to celebrate. Because this hasn’t really been a year to celebrate anything.”

The farm opened for the season this past weekend – expecting eager customers – but even that, Harris says, was exceeded.

“Let’s put it this way – we about doubled what we did in years past,” Harris said. “We were surprised, because I thought it was going to be an easy opening day, but we were running around trying to get everything done – but I couldn’t even get the tags on the trees fast enough to get the prices on them!”

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Visiting the Ergle Christmas Tree Farm has been a tradition for many in the Bay Area.

A survey from the Christmas Tree Promotion Board found 92 percent of consumers expect the pandemic to change their Christmas celebrations – 39 percent say they’re more likely to buy a real Christmas tree this year.

Catherine Centeno’s family falls in that category.

“This year, we decided to come early,” she said. “This is my favorite season of the year, and I have the two kids now, and I like them to see Christmas up for a long time, and have the spirit and all of that.”

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If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic is pulling some families back to tradition, which just might include a real Christmas tree.

“I’m like, you want to put your tree up early? You want to get in a good mood? You want to have a merry Christmas? And that’s what it’s all about,” Harris said. 

“Everyone needs something to be happy about, and right now, Christmas is it.”

The survey also found that 79 percent said they wanted this Christmas to be more special than normal. Eighty-two percent said they wanted to make it more memorable.