Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree: Local spots to pick up fresh trees
As Destin is a beach town, it’s no surprise that Christmas trees are not grown locally, so for the past 20 years, Panhandle locals James Dabney, Andrew Sparks and Danny Belcher have been bringing Christmas trees to Destin and the surrounding Northwest Florida region. The business, Paradise Point, sets up shop in parking lots across the tri-county area beginning in late November to offer locals the chance to choose and take home a real tree for the holidays.
“We are in 13 locations in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Escambia Counties,” said Destin Manager Andrew Sparks. “We started the last week of November, brought them all in, and every week we get a new shipment.”
The trees on the Paradise Point lots are all Fraser Fir trees from farms in North Carolina and Sparks said the reason for just one type of tree is because they are the heartiest trees around.
“That’s why we buy Fraser Firs, because they last longer,” said Sparks. “Christmas is getting earlier and earlier every year and people want these trees in October.”
Sparks added that each and every tree seen on the Paradise Point lot is chosen personally by business owner, James Dabney.
“He goes up and picks the fields that he wants and they go in on stilts and shape them, wrap them and ship them when they are ready,” Sparks said. “I think the reason our trees are so good is because he goes and picks them all himself.”
When asked the most popular size chosen for a Christmas tree, Sparks said it varies regionally but in Destin the average tree to leave the lot is between 8 and a half to 10 feet. However, Paradise Point Christmas trees come in all shapes and sizes ranging from the large 25-foot trees to the small 6-foot trees, and there are plenty to choose from as the Destin lot can hold 326 trees at a time.
“There’s a lot of good trees, this was a really good shipment, they are all pristine,” said Sparks. “They are priced by size and shape and are priced as marked.”
Workers on the tree lot are helpful and friendly and make the majority of their money off of gratuity for their service.
“We trim the tree back for the stand, and if you bring a stand we’ll put it up for you,” said Sparks. “We’ll net them and tie them down to the vehicles, we do everything.”
Of course the best part of choosing a Christmas tree is the experience, Sparks said, adding that aspect is actually his favorite part of the job.
“We play Christmas music and the lights are all set up, it’s really all about the experience,” he said. “People sometimes lose focus this time of year, but it’s really about the experience and the joy of Christmas; that’s what’s cool about this job because you’re making memories.”
Paradise Point has two locations in the Destin area, one in the Publix parking lot at Grand Boulevard in Sandestin and one in the Emerald Coast Centre off of U.S. Highway 98 in Destin. Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Trees may be purchased by cash or check only. Trees vary in price from $50 to $200. For more information call 259-9972.