Once again state Christmas tree is from Carbon County
RON GOWER/TIMES NEWS Chris Botek, an owner of Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Mahoning Township, looks over a Douglas fir, similar to the one the farm provided for the State Christmas Tree in Harrisburg. This marks the 18th time Crystal Spring has had a tree on the steps of the Rotunda.
For the 18th year and 11 of the past 12 years the impressive, 22-foot state Christmas tree placed at the Rotunda in Harrisburg comes from a farm in Carbon County.
The Douglas fir was grown by Crystal Spring Tree Farm, which is located along Route 902 in Mahoning Township, next to the Mahoning Elementary School.
Crystal Spring Tree Farm is owned by the Botek Family Chris and his parents, Francis and Margaret. It propagates about 15 varieties of evergreen trees on nearly 200 acres of land.
Two years ago, the farm not only supplied the state tree, it also provided the national Christmas tree in Washington D.C. for the second time.
The lighting for the state Christmas tree occurred during a ceremony held Tuesday night, with the honor going to Gov. Tom Corbett along with first lady Susan Corbett.
"The Christmas season brings out the good in us. We think about family, we give to charities, the streets seem friendlier," Gov. Corbett said. "In fact, one of the reasons we're putting the tree out here on the front steps is to share that friendship with the people of this city and visitors from around the state."
The ceremony featured Christmas caroling led by the Hanover High School Victorian Singers. The 15-member vocal group specializes in singing a cappella and they dress in Victorian-period garb.
Bishop Joseph P. McFadden of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg offered the invocation and benediction.
"This is such a special time of year and we are thrilled to be able to share the tree lighting with the community," Mrs. Corbett said. "We hope that by bringing the ceremony back to the Capitol steps, it is the beginning of a new holiday tradition at the State Capitol."
Chris Botek said that Crystal Spring provided 36 trees that were placed on the steps of the Rotunda, inside the Rotunda, in the governor's residence, at Soldiers' Grove, and at various other state locations, including state offices.
The tree on the Capitol steps is decorated with 600 energy-efficient LED lights. The tree in the Rotunda is decorated with more than 300 handcrafted ornaments from senior centers across Pennsylvania.
Department of General Services Secretary Sherri Phillips, Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley and his family and Stacy Zimmerman of the Pennsylvania Christmas Tree Growers Association also participated in the lighting ceremony.
Botek said Crystal Spring had been on a 10-year run of providing the state Christmas tree, but had it broken last year.
"It's an honor," he said, adding he's glad that his family's farm was again selected this year for the trees.
"It really is an honor. Look at all the people going through the Capitol and viewing it," said Botek.
"Look at all the Christmas tree farms in Pennsylvania," he added. "To do this so many times, it's an honor."
In 2010, Crystal Spring had the distinction of being only the sixth farm to earn "Grand Champion" a second time in the National Christmas Tree Association contest's 44-year history, and the first farm from Pennsylvania to win twice.
That championship gave Crystal Spring the opportunity of providing the National Christmas tree.
In addition, Crystal Spring was featured on HGTV's annual "White House Christmas" program.
In 2006, the first time Crystal Spring provided the national Christmas tree, Chris Botek was a guest on The Martha Stewart Show as a tree expert.
Botek said he is hoping the farm will again provide the national Christmas tree in the future. The next eligibility for Crystal Spring in the national competition will be in 2014.
"We're going to try again," he said.
Crystal Spring Tree Farm is open daily from 9 a.m. to dark. For more information, phone (570) 386-3814 or visit their website at www.cstreefarm.com.
(Editor's note: The Associated Press contributed to this article).