It's been more than 30 years since Lakes Area Young Life first began selling fresh-cut Christmas trees to area residents. The holiday tradition brings out customers new and old, some of whom have bought their trees from Young Life every year since it started.
"We sell three types of trees," says Peter Paulson, Young LIfe area director. "One is a Balsam fir, one is white pine and then we also have a Fraser fir, which is kind of like the Cadillac of Christmas trees.
"The tallest ones we have are the 12 footers, or we can make them as small as the customer wants," Paulson added. "We have fat ones, skinny ones, really full ones, or more sparse ones - whatever you want, it's probably there."
Want long needles? Then you'll want to take home a white pine. Short needles? Then you can have your choice of a balsam or Fraser fir.
"We also have wreaths for sale," Paulson said. "They're created by Mona Boehne at Beautiful Leaf Gardens here in Detroit Lakes. She makes them by hand for us every year, and they're just gorgeous."
All the trees come from Wolcyn Tree Farm in Cambridge, Minn., he added.
For the past few years, Young Life volunteers have been selling the trees from a lot at 1219 Washington Ave., between Weum Chiropractic and Imholte & Dahl, CPA.
"We have folks from all around the lakes area that love Young Life and want to help us by volunteering to sell trees," Paulson said. "We have adults, families, kids, church groups... anyone who wants to help out."
Though the volunteers are kept pretty busy helping customers choose the size and variety of tree or wreath that they want, Outlet Recreation has generously donated the use of a heated RV for them to keep warm during breaks, Paulson said.
"Daggett Trucking also hauls the trees up here from Cambridge each year, and lets us use their trailers to store the trees on site until they're sold," Paulson said.
Proceeds from the tree sales go to support Young Life ministries in the lakes area. The non-profit organization for middle school and high school students doesn't charge students and their families to participate in the Young Life (high school) or Wyld Life (middle school) programs (visit lakesarea.younglife.org for more information).
The tree sale is one of three major fundraisers for Young Life. The others are an annual triathlon and spring cupcake sales for summer camp.
Tree sales started Friday, Nov. 24, and volunteers man the lot every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until the weekend prior to Christmas - or until they sell out, which usually happens right around that time, Paulson said.
Hours are 4-7 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.