For many years, Lion Terry Flynn has taken three weeks off from his job with Niagara EMS to sell Christmas trees.
This year, trees were delivered Nov. 11, with sales not starting until Saturday. But last week, his dad Dave called to tell him his mother Liz was sick, and Terry, with his medical training, hurried to their Niagara Falls home to see what was wrong.
An ambulance was called, and she was taken to St. Catharines Hospital, where she died last Thursday at the age of 81, with her family gathered around her.
“It seemed like one minute she was washing dishes in the kitchen, and the next she was gone,” he says, leaving the family devastated, especially Dave, who Liz began dating when she was just 15, and married 63 years ago.
Yet Terry, going through a very emotional time and helping the family with arrangements, has been at Cornerstone Church in Virgil selling trees when the lot opened, and will be there when he can, between visitation and the funeral. It’s a job he has taken on for many years, and he is determined to see it through.
“It’s been crazy busy,” he says. “Saturday, the sales were the highest we’ve ever had in one day in the history of the club. And we had a lineup right up until 4 p.m.”
The club has continued to have challenges getting enough trees, and this year will have 450 Fraser and balsam firs. “I’d like to have 800,” says Flynn. “I know we could sell that many.”
Over the last three years, there has been a shortage of trees, and they sold out quickly. “A lot of the second- and third-generation farmers don’t want to take over the family farm,” he says.
And this was just the fourth weekend in November, when typically they would wait until the first weekend in December. Fortunately he was able to order the trees in two deliveries, and although the yard now looks almost empty — with about 200 trees left — there are 120 more to come.
The most popular size continues to be the six- to eight-foot trees, and there are some nine to 10 feet. Although most are Fraser or balsam fir, there are also a few Scotch pines, and something new called white pine, with “softer needles,” which Flynn says he’s looking forward to seeing.
In total, the trees range from two feet to 14 feet, he says, the taller ones for those with large foyers and high ceilings.
“Christmas is such an important time of year, and we want to make sure we have supplies for the people of Niagara-on-the-Lake,” says Flynn.
The smallest trees are $50. Six to eight feet are $75 to $85, and the taller ones, 12 to 14 feet, are $245.
The tree sale, at 1570 Niagara Stone Rd., is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.