The state Christmas Tree for South Carolina came from Pennsylvania.

Normally that would be something to brag about. It isn't, though. Apparently the tree that is on the front lawn of the Capitol Building in Columbia is not very impressive. Media have been referring to it as a "Charlie Brown Tree."

The tree apparently isn't very tall. There are some major bare spots on it, according to media reports.

In years past, South Carolina purchased its annual Christmas tree from a farm in North Carolina. It came to Pennsylvania this year because a tree farm offered the evergreen at a cheaper price. South Carolina bought the cheaper tree because of budget constraints: "penny smart, pound foolish" according to an old saying.

Because of the appearance of the tree, Christmas tree growers in Pennsylvania are unfairly getting a bad rap.

That's not good.

Christmas trees are an important commodity in Pennsylvania. The Keystone State has a reputation of growing and providing some of the finest trees in the nation. The trees are an integral part of the economics of Pennsylvania's agricultural community.

Pennsylvania also has a proven record in its trees.

Two years ago, Crystal Springs Tree Farm of Mahoning Township competed in national competition on the West Coast of the country and won the first place prize.

That same year, Crystal Springs provided the tree for the nation's capitol in Washington D.C. A few years earlier, the national tree – which goes through several rounds of selection – came from a Schuylkill County farm.

Tree growers take great pride in their product. They work together. They keep abreast of technological improvements in the growing of trees.

The tree placed on the front lawn of the Columbia, S.C. building is, by far, no representation of the gorgeous, healthy trees that come from most Pennsylvania tree farms. The press that has been derived from the South Carolina fiasco is sad in that it might give a bad impression to our tree growers.

This coming weekend, local tree growers are participating in the National Trees for Troops program. A large percentage of the trees gathered for the program come from Pennsylvania farms.

One only has to walk through the fields of trees throughout the local area to see the beautiful specimens available for the Christmas season.

It's sad that such a public location as the South Carolina Capitol campus received such a poor specimen. It's also sad that the tree has become a media indictment on one of the best group of tree growers in the nation.

It's too bad South Carolina residents didn't get to see the true colors of Pennsylvanian Christmas trees.

By Ron Gower

rgower@tnonline.com