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Customers Embrace Christmas Spirit As Tree Farms Open Early In Placerville Amid Pandemic

PLACERVILLE (CBS13) – The pungent smell of pine fills your nose despite wearing a mask at Carson Ridge and McGee Christmas tree farms in Placerville. It's the smell some customers couldn't wait to get into their homes.

"Last time, we had a true real tree is when the kids were little and they don't remember it," said Jackie Koppel.

Koppel drove from Folsom with her two children to pick out their Christmas tree for this year's holiday season.

"We're trying to get it early just so we can enjoy the holidays as long as we can," said Alyssa Koppel, Jackie's daughter.

The Koppels aren't the only ones wanting to find and cut down their own tree this year.

Thousands are also heading to national forests to do the same.

The Lake Tahoe Basin and El Dorado National Forest both sold out of permits this season.

The two sectors were cleaned out of more than 6,400 Christmas tree permits combined this season. Lake Tahoe Basin sold 2,000 permits and Eldorado National Forest sold 4,435.

Each national forest site determines how many Christmas tree permits will be sold depending on the condition of the forest in a given year.

Carson Ridge and McGee Christmas tree farms typically open the day after Thanksgiving. But both saw hundreds of customers when they opened their doors early last weekend.

Following last weekend, McGee Christmas Tree Farms is still staying closed until Black Friday through next Sunday.

Carson Ridge will be open Tuesday and Wednesday, closing for Thanksgiving and reopening on Black Friday.

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The two farms said the early open plan has a couple of different components. One is to provide the same tradition amid the uncertainty of the pandemic.

"We can provide them an opportunity to keep those traditions going," said Eli McGee, manager of McGee Christmas Tree Farms. "And provide some kind of some joy for them even if it's been a tough year."

Cathy Morgan, the owner of Carson Ridge Tree Farm, said the other reason to provide more days was to prevent a mass Black Friday rush that could create crowding at the tree farm.

"The main reason is to try to give customers a wider span of time to come and choose a tree, so they don't have to come when it's so crowded," Morgan said.

Morgan said that some customers have expressed their gratitude to her and her staff for having the extra days available to get into the Christmas spirit in a safe manner before other tree farms and lots open.

"Very kind of them to do that to take extra time out of their regular workweek. And, it made it nice for us," said Steve Bowers, who drove from Lodi to choose and cut down a Christmas Tree at Carson Ridge. "We didn't have to come up from Lodi and go back to Lodi empty-handed."

The Tahoe National Forest still has Christmas tree permits available.

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