The smell of fresh cut pine trees filled the air as Keith Lohse and his family meandered through a collection of Christmas trees on Saturday in the First Presbyterian Church parking lot.

Holiday bells jingles as the family perused the Seguin Sunrise Lions Club’s Christmas Tree Lot searching for just the right tree.

As part of a holiday tradition, the Lohses put aside a Saturday after every Thanksgiving to pick out a fresh tree for their home, Lohse said.

“For the last couple years, we’ve actually gone to the tree farm and cut down our own tree, but this year we decided to support a local charity,” he said. “My wife is the one who picks the tree. She likes to wander around and look at all of them.”

The Seguin Sunrise Lions club provided the 200 trees the Lohse family scrutinized.

All of the trees are priced within various ranges to accommodate anyone looking for a tree, Seguin Sunrise Lion Lloyd Wilson said.

“The money we collect selling these trees goes toward scholarships for kids at the Seguin High School,” he said. “We just try to give back to the community that we live in.”

The trees make the long voyage from Oregon to Seguin and are set up just before Thanksgiving Day, although the lot doesn’t open until the Friday after the holiday. The tree lot will remain open daily until all of the trees are sold.

Jeff and Connie Downs and Jeff’s mother Nelle Downs wandered around the small forest of trees to cherry-pick the perfect holiday evergreen for her home. 

“We are looking for a Christmas tree for my mother’s front porch,” Jeff said. “She found one she really likes. I suppose she likes the shape of it, and she can reach the top without a ladder, so it’s pretty great.”

The families visited the lot during its second Christmas Tree Festival, which included more than the assorted evergreens.

Guests could sing a little karaoke, visit the coloring station or enjoy a few treats. 

“We are trying to beef up the event with a lot of activities, so this year we have more fun things for the kids to do,” Travis Anderson, First Presbyterian Church Outreach Committee chair, said. “Right now, we have Christmas coloring pages, Christmas carol karaoke, hot cocoa, Christmas cookies and green screen photos with Santa that will allow us to put different backgrounds that families can then use for their Christmas cards,” he said.

Dana Haiby and her three daughters posed for photos with Santa Claus — also known as Richard Clayton — at the Santa station. 

“That’s my grandfather (Clayton),” she said. “My sister was walking by and said she saw 

him over here, and she called us and told us to come take pictures, so we came down to take pictures.” 

Two of Haiby’s daughters, Kinsey Palmer and Kloe Britton, were unaware of their grandfather’s role as jolly Saint Nick. However, Haiby’s third daughter, Maci Britton, had her suspicions, Haiby said.

“They were all really excited to come down to the event,” she said. “We tried to get over here as quickly as we could because there are so many different people around town dressed as Santa. On the way over here, I was trying to duck their heads down and was like,’No, we are going to go over to the church and see this Santa.’”

Haiby applauded those in the community who try to spread Christmas cheer.

“I like the fact that all the churches are trying to do something for the holidays,” she said. “I think they should all have something that they do. Whether it’s trees, church, hot cocoa, or whatever it is, it’s just beautiful to have something for the kids because if they didn’t, then there probably wouldn’t be anything.“

Although the festival kicked off with a slower start than anticipated, Anderson has high hopes for the future.

“We wish that more people would have attended today, but I’m certainly having fun,” he said. “It is a yearly event, so we’ll do it again next year. We will try and build up some more interest and hopefully have more families come out. Everything has to start small.”

Rochelle Carter, a First Presbyterian Outreach Committee member, said the event is a great way to unify the community. 

“I think this is important for people to attend because it brings everybody together and actually spreads a lot of Christmas spirit, especially since it’s right after Thanksgiving,” she said. “It allows some kids to come out and have some fun and also have the parents be able to get their tree and family photo taken with Santa. I think this is all pretty cool because many families may not have the opportunity to get their whole family photo taken.” 

The tree lot will remain open daily until all of the trees are sold. The Christmas Tree Lot hours are 4 to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; and noon to 7:30 p.m. Sundays.

Joe Martin is a staff writer for the Seguin Gazette. He can be reached at joe.

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