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Snowy trees bring town together in December

Thursday, December 13th, 2012 | Posted by

Ava Hamelburg, 8, center catches “snow” at the Charlie Brown Tree Grove in the Windsor Town Green.

By HOWARD SENZELL / Towns Correspondent

There’s a place in Sonoma County where it will snow every night through New Year’s Eve, guaranteed.

To witness the cold snowflakes in the air, just go to the Town Green at 5:30 or 7:30 p.m. While watching the man-made snow floating in the air, you won’t be able to resist glancing at the 183 decorated Christmas trees that surround the downtown park.

This is the fourth year for the Charlie Brown Tree Grove and in that short period of time, it has become a Windsor holiday tradition. Now, it’s not only a must-stop for locals, but also for people from surrounding towns and beyond.

Co-organizers Karen Alves and Michael Powell have seen the grove grow from 44 trees in 2009 to 183 this season. Each tree is sponsored by a family, school class, business or group that purchases the tree for $50, then does the decorations.

Sharon Rooney of Windsor toured it with her brother’s family and pointed out the tree decorated by Windsor High School’s chemistry class, using test tubes filled with colored glitter. “Darling!” she said, also calling out the red, white and blue Moms of Military tree, with photos of active servicemen/women, and the dentist’s tree, with tiny toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes and plastic teeth.

Rooney’s dog Brix was especially struck by the tree sponsored by a dog care business. “He took a dog biscuit ornament off and ate half of it, glitter paint and all, before I could wrestle it from his jaws,” she said, “so embarrassing.”

Owning a tree has become so popular that the organizers had to turn away a few dozen people who waited until the last minute to apply.

“We have to order the trees in advance, and we ordered 20 more than a year ago,” Powell said. “Before Thanksgiving, every tree had a sponsor.

“Next year, we’ll have 200 trees in the grove.”

There’s also talk of more snow, which has been a crowd-pleaser.

The flakes are made mixing water and a product called Evaporative Snow. A blower shoots the snow about 20 feet high.

The grove comes together each December, thanks to the efforts of local merchants and volunteers.

Alves, who is a Realtor, wanted something that would bring people downtown during the holiday season. Store and restaurant owners loved the idea because of the potential bump in business.

Powell owned Powell’s Sweet Shoppe at 720 McClelland Drive, across the street from the Green and liked Alves’ idea, so he volunteered to help her that first year.

Now he has taken on a larger role. Among his responsibilities are creating the advertising graphics and making the snow.

UPTick Vineyards is the primary underwriter, with major sponsors that include Snoopy’s Home Ice, Supervisor Mike McGuire, Rebich Construction, Harkey Construction, ebmc, North Point Advisors, Multi-Contact and Powell’s Sweet Shoppe.

Proceeds are donated to the Windsor Educational Foundation.

“What I enjoy most is seeing how happy people are when they walk around the Christmas trees and see snow floating in the air,” Powell said.

Although he sold the local candy store to Craig Christensen last year, Powell still lives right across the Green from it and doesn’t plan on moving. He now is in the franchise business, with 15 Powell’s Sweet Shoppes in California, and one each in Idaho and Oregon.

“Every December I can look out my front window and see all the decorated Christmas trees,” he said. “What a sight.”


Writer Spotlight

James Lanaras is our Windsor correspondent.
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