Christmas Tree Guy

Published 7:09 pm Tuesday, December 13, 2005

By By Adam Prestridge
Most people refer to him as the "Christmas Tree Guy".
It's a fitting nickname for a guy who for 10 years has helped spread holiday cheer throughout the area by selling live Christmas trees to its residents.
The "Christmas Tree Guys" real name is Andy Bogdan and he along with his wife, Joan, own Country Pines Tree Farm in Bratt, Fla. Bogdan said this year sales are a bit off, but he expected that following the hurricanes.
"It's a bit slow, but that's to be expected," he said. "Hurricanes have about wiped everybody out this year."
Even though Hurricane Dennis did a number on his 10-acre tree farm, Bogdan still has hundreds of trees standing ready for lights, ornaments and tinsel. Country Pines still has beautiful pine trees, Carolina sapphires, cedars and Leyland cypress to offer customers.
"Once the trees are decorated, it's still a Christmas tree," Bogdan said. "You can't really tell the difference."
Several of the tree farm's larger trees paid the ultimate price from the storms.
"The bigger they are the harder they fall," Bogdan said. "Everyone in the business took a heavy hit. We're more or less the only game in town."
Even though a lot of Bogdan's crop was destroyed, he was thankful for what trees were spared.
"It could be a lot worse; we could be in New Orleans," he said. "At least we're having a Christmas, a lot of people aren't."
Bogdan said he's had several customers this year from Pensacola, Century and Molino visit his "choose 'n cut" tree farm.
"We're looking for the perfect tree," Molino resident Marsha Cook said.
Cook, along with her husband, Daryl, and three children, River, 8, Hunter, 3, and Brooklyn, 2, braved the bone-chilling wind Friday afternoon and took their time choosing from the selection of trees available. Once the selection was made, Daryl and the children grab a saw and went to work cutting down their tree.
"It's a fun experience for the children to walk around and enjoy the holidays," Bogdan said. "It's a nice outing for the whole family."
After the tree was cut down, Bogdan shook it with his electronic shaker to rid it of dead pine needles. The tree was then pulled through candy cane netting to help keep its shape during the family's trek back to Molino. While their Daryl and Bogdan tied the tree to the top of the family Suburban, Marsha and the children enjoyed candy canes and cookies.
"It's fun," Bogdan said. "If you're not able to cut it, we're cut it for you."
The only other alternative to cutting down your family Christmas tree is buying an artificial tree or buying one from a curb farm.
"If you want to cut a tree, we've probably got it, and if you don't, you're going to have to buy one at a retail store," Bogdan said.
Bogdan said it's a joy for he and his wife to run the tree farm. They look forward to Christmas time each year.
"It's a happy time of year," Bogdan said. "You meet a lot of folks. We have a lot of repeat business and get to know a lot of people and recognize them. It seems like everybody knows me as the Christmas Tree Guy."
Several area schools take field trips to Country Pines to celebrate the holidays. The Bogdan's love to see the excitement in the children's eyes when they step foot on the farm.
"We have several busload children from area schools visit each year for field trips," Bogdan said. "They come and buy a tree. It gives them something to save for and look forward to. It's cute."
Country Pines offers customers cookies, apple juice and candy canes free of charge as they search for the family Christmas tree. The tree farm is located at 5001 Still Road and open seven days a week from 8:300 a.m. until dark. Trees are priced according to size and range from $15 to $28.
To get to Country Pines, take Hwy. 21 south toward Pensacola, Fla. Approximately four miles from Atmore take a left on Hwy. 4 and travel 1.2 miles. Turn right at Still Road and the tree farm is the fifth house on the right.
For more information contact 327-4700.

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