Lehighton tree farm supplying White House Christmas tree
RON GOWER/TIMES NEWS Chris Botek of Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Mahoning Township attaches red ribbon to tree being delivered today to Washington D.C. For the third time in seven years, Crystal Spring is supplying the National Tree which will adorn the Blue Room of the White House. He and his family will officially present the tree to Michelle Obama on Friday.
While many local folks will be doing Black Friday shopping the day after Thanksgiving, the Botek family of Mahoning Township will be in Washington D.C. presenting a Christmas tree to Michelle Obama at the White House.
The Botek family owns Crystal Spring Tree Farm along Route 902, next to Mahoning Elementary School.
For the third time in seven years, their tree farm is supplying the "National Christmas Tree;" the tree which will adorn the Blue Room of the White House.
The 21-foot Douglas fir was transported to Washington this morning.
At the White House, Chris Botek was whisked through security and turned the tree over to the White House maintenance crew.
The maintenance staff will cut it down to 18 1/2 feet. On Friday, it will be hauled down Pennsylvania Avenue on a horse-drawn cart with the Boteks walking next to it. They then will present the tree to the First Lady.
Present will be Chris Botek, who manages the farm, accompanied by his girlfriend, Kyra Yurko, and his parents, Francis and Margaret Botek.
Crystal Spring provided the trees to the White House in 2006 and 2010.
Before that, in 2000, the Shealer Tree Farm in Schuylkill County had provided the tree.
The farm that supplies the tree to the White House is selected through competition by the National Tree Growers Association. Winners must wait four years before being eligible again.
This year, the winner of the national competition was a New Jersey tree grower, Chris Botek said.
However, when a crew from the White House went to the N.J. farm, they couldn't find one tall enough to put in the Blue Room.
Remembering their association with Crystal Spring, the White House staff contacted Botek and asked if he could supply this year's tree again.
To qualify for the national competition, a tree grower must take the grand champion honors in their respective state competition.
Botek said he is eligible to compete for national honors again next year, so he is hoping to compete.
This past year's state champion was the Shealer farm.
Besides supplying the tree for the Blue Room of the White House, Crystal Spring has for the past 18 years been providing most of the state government's Christmas trees.
Crystal Spring, which begins its 2013 selling season on Wednesday, was started by Francis and Margaret Botek in 1964. It has grown to about 200 acres.