This is the noble Christmas tree’s time to shine. Many folks accept no substitute for a real live evergreen, and for some, a trek to a tree farm to seek out the perfect pine is a beloved tradition.
For many in Columbus and far beyond, tradition has led them for the past 30 years to the Tower Family Christmas Tree Farm off West Lowell Road, just beyond the Lowell Bridge over the Driftwood River.
But as The Republic’s Mark Webber reported in words and Mike Wolanin in photos, the tree farm is marking its final Christmas this season. Sometime on or around Dec. 15, the farm will sell its last tree.
As Webber wrote, co-owner Ed Tower and his wife, Cathy, have already reached retirement age. And though the family farm sold its first Christmas tree in 1992, those had been planted years earlier, in 1984.
Indeed, the family aspect of this enterprise has been a tradition too, as Webber wrote. The Towers’ son Jason and daughter Jeanette — as well as other family members from far and wide — still come home for the holidays to pitch in and help.
But the family decided it was time for mom and dad to enjoy their retirement years, and who can argue with that? Especially when something else had entered the equation for Ed, a retired Columbus East High School math teacher, and his family. Things just were not adding up anymore.
Because of supply chain issues and shortages of sought-after Fraser fir trees, which the farm sold in addition to those that customers could cut at the farm, the Towers were only able to obtain 60% of the trees ordered last year.
“Out of that 60%, 100 of them had to be culled out,” Tower told Webber. “All told, our inventory was 48% of what we originally ordered for 2021.” There was more demand for the trees than supply, and not even a change of supplier could change the bottom line.
“There just isn’t any other place to go to,” Tower said.
With a note of irony, many customers of Tower Family Christmas Tree Farm must feel exactly the same way. We can say that because we saw the photos Wolanin took on a recent visit, including one printed here that would warm even the Grinch’s heart. A thousand words could never capture the spirit of the holiday, the richness of its traditions, the memories made in a moment.
And for generations now, those memories included a trek to our local tree farm to bring home the centerpiece of the season.
We hear all the time that the only constant is change. There’s no fighting it. And yet, we take for granted that some traditions will be with us always. We get used to them, take comfort in them, and look forward to the cheer they bring.
Plenty of folks will miss having the Tower tree farm as part of their holiday. But they’ll also cherish the memory.
Thanks, Tower family, for helping to make so many seasons bright.