Tree farms don’t just grow Christmas trees, they grow traditions

By Gene Axton - [email protected] | December 11th, 2016 8:00 am

IF YOU GO

Helen & Ed’s Tree Farm is located at 3758 Saint Mary’s Road, Wapwallopen and is open every day from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. For more information, call 570-868-6252.

Kalie’s Christmas Tree Farm is located at 238 Hetcheltooth Road, Shickshinny. The farm is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, as well as 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, call 570-864-0112.

What makes a tree the cream of the crop at a Christmas tree farm? Specifications vary from family to family, but for siblings Will, Emily and Lizzy Barrouk, the deciding factor comes courtesy of a certain jolly bearded man.

“They usually end up picking out whatever they end up bonding with,” said the siblings’ mother, Jessica Cronauer, while she and her children explored Kalie’s Christmas Tree Farm in Shickshinny. “Our tree has to be not too big, and we look for a good shape, something healthy. And they always get a note from Santa in their tree, we’ll be looking for that too.”

For families that choose a natural tree during the holiday season, visiting Christmas tree farms can become an annual tradition. While Cronauer, her mother, Lynn, and her three children laid the foundation for a new tradition when they visited Kalie’s Tree Farm for the first time, Brian Benedetti and his nephew, Dean, kept a 36-year steak alive.

After growing up in Parsons, Dean, 40, moved to Baltimore, Md., in 2001, but he returns to the area every year to keep his and his uncle’s tradition of visiting Helen & Ed’s Tree Farm in Wapwallopen alive.

“They make you feel like you pick and choose what you want and you have the ability to cut your own tree down,” Dean said. “It’s just nostalgic.”

The deciding factor when the Benedettis are picking a tree is height. But that’s an ongoing battle for the nephew/uncle duo. Dean pushes for a tall tree while Brian looks for something short.

“He’s 0-for-36, I think,” Dean said.

The ongoing shutout seems to be one tradition Brian has come to terms with.

“I have no chance of winning,” Brian said.

Helen & Ed’s Tree Farm was started in the early ’60s by Helen and Ed Myslowski. After graduating from Penn State and spending eight years at an environmental consulting firm, Ed Myslowski Jr. took over the family business in 1996.

“It’s a labor of love,” Myslowski said. “It’s very nice to see people’s faces and how happy the customers are. We try to produce the best product we can. I enjoy doing it and I look forward to it.”

Shickshinny small business Kalie’s Christmas Tree Farm — a 30-minute drive from Helen & Ed’s — has a way’s to go to catch up to the latter’s 50-plus year history, but owner Andrew Kalie is celebrating 10 years of operation.

“It was something that I always wanted to do when I was younger,” Kalie said. “I was always into the outdoors and this is a way I can also give back to the kids. I like the feeling — the Christmas feeling — when the kids come here and I like to see the families come out and the good time that they have. It’s an enjoyable experience.”

Kalie, who’s also a member of the United States Air Force Reserve and until recently worked a full-time construction job near Philadelphia, has his eye on expansion. Three years ago he added a gift shop full of Christmas-themed crafts, and his crop of Christmas trees increases annually by the thousands.

Kalie’s Christmas Tree Farm offers a variety of tree species, but the Frasier fir is its best-selling variety — Cronauer and her family are among those who pick the Frasier for its soft needles and strong branches. Cronauer said that after Santa helps them choose a tree, the day’s traditions continue when they get home.

“We’ll be decorating most of the night,” Cronauer said. “Christmas music, Christmas movies, hot chocolate, the whole nine. It’s really a solid six-week commitment, making the season magical.”

Rob Hearn lives in West Milford, N.J. with his family, but he grew up in Shickshinny and returned to the area this year to decorate the family home. Hearn cut down his own tree at Kalie’s Tree Farm.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/web1_Tree-Kalie-1-untoned.jpgRob Hearn lives in West Milford, N.J. with his family, but he grew up in Shickshinny and returned to the area this year to decorate the family home. Hearn cut down his own tree at Kalie’s Tree Farm. Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Megan Boone (left), of Berwick, carries the saw used to cut the tree being hauled by her 13-year-old son Jonathan. His sister, Kelsey, 17, carries the pole used to gauge the height of trees at Kalie’s Tree Farm.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/web1_Tree-Kalie-2-untoned.jpgMegan Boone (left), of Berwick, carries the saw used to cut the tree being hauled by her 13-year-old son Jonathan. His sister, Kelsey, 17, carries the pole used to gauge the height of trees at Kalie’s Tree Farm. Fred Adams | For Times Leader
West Milford, N.J. resident Rob Hearn wrestles a 9-foot Douglas fir onto a cart at Kalie’s Christmas Tree Farm. Hearn, a Shickshinny native, returned to the area with his wife, Jennifer, daughter Emily and Emily’s friend, Kaitlyn Kymer, to pick a Christmas tree and decorate the family home.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/web1_Tree-Kalie-3-untoned.jpgWest Milford, N.J. resident Rob Hearn wrestles a 9-foot Douglas fir onto a cart at Kalie’s Christmas Tree Farm. Hearn, a Shickshinny native, returned to the area with his wife, Jennifer, daughter Emily and Emily’s friend, Kaitlyn Kymer, to pick a Christmas tree and decorate the family home. Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Mike Mazonkey uses a chain saw to cut a blue spruce for a customer at Kalie’s Christmas Tree Farm.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/web1_Tree-Kalie-4-untoned.jpgMike Mazonkey uses a chain saw to cut a blue spruce for a customer at Kalie’s Christmas Tree Farm. Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Andrew Kalie, owner of Kalie’s Christmas Tree Farm, uses a bailer to compress a 15-foot tree for its journey to someone’s home.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/web1_Tree-Kalie-5-untoned.jpgAndrew Kalie, owner of Kalie’s Christmas Tree Farm, uses a bailer to compress a 15-foot tree for its journey to someone’s home. Fred Adams | For Times Leader
The search for a Christmas tree came to an end for siblings Will (left), Emily and Lizzy Barrouk when they found a letter from Santa in a tree a Kalie’s Tree Farm in Shickshinny.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/web1_tree-kids-2-untoned.jpgThe search for a Christmas tree came to an end for siblings Will (left), Emily and Lizzy Barrouk when they found a letter from Santa in a tree a Kalie’s Tree Farm in Shickshinny. Gene Axton | Times Leader
Emily Barrouk holds up the letter she, her brother Will, and sister Lizzy found inside a tree at Kalie’s Tree Farm in Shickshinny. The letter, written by Santa, helps the three in their search for the perfect Christmas tree.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/web1_tree-kids-4-untoned.jpgEmily Barrouk holds up the letter she, her brother Will, and sister Lizzy found inside a tree at Kalie’s Tree Farm in Shickshinny. The letter, written by Santa, helps the three in their search for the perfect Christmas tree. Gene Axton | Times Leader
Helen & Ed’s Tree Farm in Wapwallopen has fields of Christmas trees and offers saw rentals for families who like to cut down their own. The large green barn on the farm houses their gift shop.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/web1_Tree-Ed-1-untoned.jpgHelen & Ed’s Tree Farm in Wapwallopen has fields of Christmas trees and offers saw rentals for families who like to cut down their own. The large green barn on the farm houses their gift shop. Clark Van Orden | For Times Leader
Families search the fields at Helen & Ed’s Tree Farm for the ideal evergreen conifer to adorn their home during the holiday season.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/web1_Tree-Ed-2-untoned.jpgFamilies search the fields at Helen & Ed’s Tree Farm for the ideal evergreen conifer to adorn their home during the holiday season. Clark Van Orden | For Times Leader
Dean Benedetti and his fiance, Melonie Dugan, traveled from Baltimore, Md., to pick a tree from Helen & Ed’s Tree Farm. Visiting the farm is a tradition for Benedetti, originally from Parsons.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/web1_Tree-Ed-3-untoned.jpgDean Benedetti and his fiance, Melonie Dugan, traveled from Baltimore, Md., to pick a tree from Helen & Ed’s Tree Farm. Visiting the farm is a tradition for Benedetti, originally from Parsons. Clark Van Orden | For Times Leader
Families that choose natural kick off their Christmas season at tree farms in Wapwallopen and Shickshinny

By Gene Axton

[email protected]

IF YOU GO

Helen & Ed’s Tree Farm is located at 3758 Saint Mary’s Road, Wapwallopen and is open every day from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. For more information, call 570-868-6252.

Kalie’s Christmas Tree Farm is located at 238 Hetcheltooth Road, Shickshinny. The farm is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, as well as 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, call 570-864-0112.

Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts


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