It’s been a holiday tradition for at least the past 50 years, and probably more. The annual Scottsbluff Kiwanis Christmas Tree Sale is open again at TLC on Avenue B in Scottsbluff.

Kiwanis member Roger Russell said they ordered about 300 trees for sale this year and they usually sell out by the time Christmas arrives.

This year’s trees will sell anywhere from $55 to $105, depending on the size and variety. The most popular sizes are from five to eight feet tall, although Kiwanis has also ordered a few that are 10 feet tall for larger rooms.

Varieties include Grand Fir, which has long, soft needles and a strong pine smell. The needles on the Fraser Fir are stiffer, so it’s perfect for hanging larger ornaments. It also has a strong pine smell.

The third variety is Douglas Fir, a native species that looks like the old fashioned trees that people used to cut down on the farm. It isn’t as dense as the other varieties, but is still a favorite for many people. Roger calls them “Charlie Brown trees.”

Kiwanis member Char Uhrig said she uses the open space of the Douglas Fir to incorporate poinsettia flowers into the decoration of the tree.

“All the money we raise goes toward scholarships for area high school seniors who will be attending college next year,” Roger said. “People keep coming back because it’s become a tradition for them. They remember their parents getting a Kiwanis Christmas tree and in later years they get one of their own. We have people come from all over the Panhandle to buy a tree.”

He added that artificial trees don’t have the smell of pine unless they’re sprayed with some kind of chemical fragrance, which isn’t the real thing. It’s always been a tradition to have a live tree for Christmas. And as Char said, a real tree has imperfections, unlike the “perfectly engineered artificial ones.”

People who get a tree from the Kiwanis lot are not only getting a fresh, real tree; they’re also supporting the many activities Kiwanis is involved with.

In addition to scholarships, Kiwanis helps with the Salvation Army’s Backpack program. Members also organize an after prom party for Scottsbluff High School, organize a kid’s fishing day, fry hamburgers for the Camp Scott program, cook pancakes and help with Thanksgiving in the Valley.

Kiwanis also sponsors a Builders Club at Gering Middle School, Key Club at Scottsbluff High School, and the Aktion Club, whose members attached stickers at Scottsbluff’s street drainage points to remind the public not to dump waste water into the water system.

“Kiwanis is a great service organization,” Roger said. “We’re more of a blue collar type of group that likes to get involved with hands-on projects. One of them was the playground equipment in Riverside Park. The city has since taken over responsibility for the playground, but each year we have a fundraiser to purchase new equipment for them.”

The Kiwanis Christmas Tree Lot is open from noon to 8 p.m. weekdays, Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon and Sunday from 1-6 p.m.

“We opened in the middle of last weekend’s snowstorm, but we’ve sold 85 trees so far,” Char said. “The trees have been going fast as soon as people could get out from under the storm.”

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Jerry Purvis is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9046 or emailed at jpurvis@starherald.com.

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