Real Christmas tree traditions carry on in Aurora

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AURORA | On a frigid afternoon, surrounded by a few hundred Christmas trees at his tree lot near Town Center at Aurora Mall, Tyler Sherwood has no trouble ticking off the reasons to go with a real Christmas tree instead of one made in a factory.

“It helps with land erosion, animal habitat. It’s a lot greener option,” he said as his dog, Ace, played with a piece of a tree at his feet.

Sherwood’s lot — Jolly Christmas Trees — is one of a dozen temporary tree stands around town this holiday season.

According to city records, the bulk of those lots — eight in all — are at local King Soopers stores. Nick’s Garden Center at 2001 S. Chambers Rd. also has license to sell trees.

As for lots like Sherwood’s, temporary lots that peddle trees for a few weeks before Christmas, there are just three in Aurora this year: Jolly Christmas Trees at 14200 E. Alameda Ave. on the west side of the mall parking lot, McCoy Christmas Trees at 1801 S. Havana St., and Let It Snow at 6450 Southlands Parkway.

The McCoy’s lot on the corner of Havana and East Mexico Avenue is one of seven the company has along the Front Range, according to their website. The company, which has been in business for more than 30 years, also has five in California.

Nationwide, decorating the tree is big business.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the country imported about $1.1 billion worth of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and September 2016.

Beyond that, the country imported more than $345 million worth of Christmas tree lights from China during the same stretch, according to the Census bureau.

This Christmas season marks the first year in business for Sherwood. He said he also works as a street vendor selling sunglasses, purses and Broncos gear, so opening the tree lot was a good fit.

Sherwood said he shipped in more than 800 trees from Michigan this year and opened the lot the day after Thanksgiving.

Most trees come from the Pacific Northwest, but Sherwood said he opted for trees from Michigan because the weather was unseasonably warm at many of the tree farms in Oregon and Washington.

The goal, Sherwood said, is to keep the lot open until all 800 trees are sold. So far, he’s sold a few hundred.

“It kind of depends on how long it takes to sell all our trees,” he said.

Sherwood said he estimates about half of people who put up a tree opt for the real thing, while the other half prefer a fake tree.

While Sherwood points to the environmental benefits of a real tree — he said the farm he buys from plants three trees for every one they chop down — he said his customers have other, comforting reasons.

“It’s more a traditional thing,” he said. “And definitely people like the smell.”