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Trees, tradition and fun

More residents putting emphasis on holiday

Corey Yon of Lowellville, left, uses a hand saw to cut the trunk of a Christmas tree as daughter Sophia Yon, 15, holds it steady during a family trip to Pioneer Trails Tree Farm on Friday.

POLAND — Cutting Christmas trees is synonymous with the holiday season.

In Mahoning County, just a handful of places are available to cut live trees. At Pioneer Trails Tree Farm, the holiday tradition has been going strong for 30 years. Mary Jan Perdulla and her husband, Frank, started selling Christmas trees in 1990.

“It’s a family operation,” she said. “Now my oldest son, Charles, is here full time, and my other two children, Matt and Amy, help on a seasonal basis.”

Much like corn mazes or other outdoor activities, looking for the perfect tree offers a great escape from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think people have been so limited with their activities due to COVID that if getting a real Christmas tree has been a tradition, it’s actually a higher priority this year, and they’re putting more emphasis on it because of the limitations,” Perdulla said.

With the cooperating weather over the past few weekends, the family business has been booming. They anticipate this weekend will be busy.

“It’s looking like we’re going to have an outstanding year this year, and we may even consider closing early toward the middle of December,” Perdulla said.

The cost of picking and cutting down your own tree is $61, but that includes wagon rides, tree shaking and tree baling. Also, Pioneer Trails provides the needed tools.

“It really is a unique experience that can be made into a family destination. You could be here for 15 to 20 minutes or be here for a couple of hours walking around the tree lot,” Perdulla said.

With the pandemic, the business has added a curbside pick-up option. The process of using this service is easy and caters to elderly customers.

“For some of our seasoned customers who are elderly, it eliminates some of the hassle,” she said.

TRADITION

Perdulla said that annually about 70 percent of its clientele are returning customers.

Of the returning customers are the Filisky and Yon families from Lowellville. Frank Filisky said the families have been coming to Pioneer Trails for about 10 years.

“We’ve had a live Christmas tree for over 30 years, made the switch to an artificial tree for about six years and the last five years we’ve had a live one — and it’s going to stay that way,” Filisky said.

Filisky said a big reason for cutting down trees is for the nostalgia of walking around and picking one out.

For years, the two families have cut down a tree together. Each year, they have their own tradition within the tradition.

“When the kids bring out the tree, we play the ‘Rocky’ theme song,” Filisky said. “It’s always a lot of fun.”

This year, it was 10-year-old Steven Yon’s turn to pull the tree on a wagon.

Karen and John Basista, from Poland, have gone back and forth from live trees to artificial trees and Karen said she remembers her father taking her and her family to get a live tree.

Under normal circumstances, the business offers horse-drawn carriage rides, but due to COVID-19, the rides were postponed until next year.

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