Local trees to light up Harrisburg
RON GOWER/TIMES NEWS Chris Botek, whose family owns Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Mahoning Township, stands next to Christmas trees on his farm. For the 13th time in 15 years, the farm is supplying the tree for the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg.
Once again Carbon County is impacting the state capitol in a big way this Christmas season.
The official state Christmas tree, to be displayed in the Rotunda, is from Carbon, as are more than two dozen other trees in state offices and other prominent locations.
For the 13th time in 15 years, Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Mahoning Township is providing the 23-foot Douglas fir (named in honor of the Scottish botanist David Douglas), which was officially delivered to the Rotunda yesterday. The tree is donated to the state by the Pennsylvania Tree Growers Association.
The tree will be decorated, with the official lighting occurring at noon on Wednesday, Dec. 9.
Crystal Spring Tree Farm sent 30 trees to Harrisburg for various offices and sites, including a 15-foot Douglas fir for the famous Soldiers' and Sailors' Grove in the capital. The shipment also includes the Christmas trees for the residences of the governor and lieutenant governor.
"It's an honor for us to provide the state tree," said Chris Botek, whose family owns the farm. He's the son of Francis and Margaret Botek, who started Crystal Spring Tree Farm in 1964.
The Boteks have been selling trees since the mid-1930s when the family ran a small grocery store.
Chris feels that Christmas trees from Carbon County growers are the best in the nation.
"I would put Carbon County's trees up there against anyone's in the country," he said.
As proof, in 2006, he and his parents drove to Portland, Oregon and competed in the National Christmas Tree Growers Competition. It was their first such entry and they won, giving them the privilege of providing the national tree at the White House.
Tree growers are allowed to win only once every three years in national competition. Chris said his family is considering entering again next year.
Besides supplying the capitol facilities with over 30 trees, Crystal Spring Tree Farms also sent about 60 trees to Longwood Gardens, a 1,050-acre nationally respected garden complex in Kennett Square, Chester County. Two of the trees were 30 feet tall. Longwood Gardens also purchased more than a ton of greens from Crystal Spring.
Chris said for years the farm has supplied the Christmas trees for former N.Y. Yankees pitcher Tommy John and former N.Y. Giants quarterback Phil Simms.
He noted that although the firm has a large wholesale business, it currently is concentrating on the local retail trade where families can come to the site, located along Route 902, and select a fresh tree for cutting.
Crystal Spring Tree Farm is open daily through Christmas Eve from 9 a.m. until dark.
Visit www.cstreefarm.com or phone (570) 386-3814 for more information.