Family-run Christmas tree lot brightens valley holidays for nearly six decades

Family-run Christmas tree lot brightens valley holidays for nearly six decades

PALM DESERT, Calif. - Over the next four weeks, 700 trees will make their way from Oregon to this Christmas tree lot in Palm Desert.  

"Since we grow these ourselves, we select the ones we feel are the nicest, so we know what we're getting when we open them," said Verlyn Aerni III, owner of Aerni Christmas Trees. 

Aerni knows what it takes to grow the perfect tree.  His grandfather began selling firs in Cathedral City nearly six decades ago, and passed his passion on to his son and grandson.

"It's a fun time because a lot of people don't really get to work with their family, and their wife, and their kids," Aerni said.

He farms his trees in Mill City, a town 35 miles east of Salem, Oregon, but for the past 6 years he's been coming to this lot on Washington and Delaware to sell them. And when they arrive in mid-November each year it's non-stop work.

"It's 16 hours during the weekdays and maybe 18 after paperwork on the weekends," Aerni said. 

Many valley residents make it a tradition to come to Aerni's lot each year. 

"Sometimes we don't know what we're looking for and they kind of help us with finding of the perfect tree," said Tim McGovern, who has bought his trees from Aerni five years and counting.

"It is neat because they've seen even me grow up from a little boy, you know my mom and dad's lot in Cathedral City," Aerni said. 

But this year there's one fewer week between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which means less time to find the perfect tree to brighten up your home. 

"Last year Thankgiving was on the 22nd, which gave us a week more to sell trees. We're hoping it's going to be busier, quicker," Aerni said. 

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