By CHERIL VERNON
Making special memories during the holidays can last a lifetime.
One of East Texas’ very few Christmas tree farms — MR and MS Trees in Tucker — offers memory-making opportunities as families can take a hayride around the tree farm to find the perfect tree to cut down and take home, enjoy the country-like atmosphere while roasting marshmallows, visit the gift shop or enjoy sitting in an Indian teepee.
Officially opening for the holiday season today, MR and MS Trees is open from 9 a.m. to dark Wednesdays through Saturday and 1 p.m. to dark on Sundays. Santa Claus will be at the tree farm for pictures and visits with the children on opening day today (this Friday only) and on all Saturdays and Sundays. The tree farm is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays for school tours.
“It’s a great way to make memories and something the whole family can enjoy — taking a ride on the hay wagon, walking around to find the right tree and cutting it down — instead of picking it from a tree lot,” said MR and MS Trees co-owner Michaelene Sparks, who owns the tree farm with her husband, Rick. “We usually have a fire going in the fire pit or in the teepee, if you want to roast marshmallows.
“They can visit with Santa first, have some hot chocolate, wassail or popcorn or get on the hay wagon to go to the field and choose their tree.”
Currently, families can choose their Christmas tree from about 2,000 Virginia Pines in the field. The tree farm also has about 75 pre-cut Frazier firs from North Carolina available. Prices start at $6 a foot for Virginia Pines and $8 a foot for the Frazier firs.
“We have a couple of families that meet here on the day after Thanksgiving and spend the day at the farm and then go their separate ways,” Sparks said. “One family comes from Galveston, the other from Athens and another from Dallas. They’ve been coming for years now.
“We also have a lot of people from around the Palestine area as well as far away as Dallas who ride the Polar Express™ at the Texas State Railroad one day, then come to the farm the next day.”
Uniquely, the tree farm also sells homemade wreaths and swags, as well as a variety of gift items in the gift shop.
“We sell fried Indian bread, ornaments, gift baskets, wassail, iron work, crosses, stocking stands and all kinds of goodies,” Sparks said. “I make my own fresh greenery for the homemade wreaths.”
Santa Claus also has a permanent mailbox at the farm for all the kids to drop off wish lists and letters for the times he is not able to be present. A play area also is available for children.
MR and MS Trees has supplied Christmas trees for several known places over the years. One year, the farm donated the tree for the State Capitol and has also given every soldier family serving a tree.
Locally, the tree farm offered non-profit organizations participating in the Dogwood Garden Club’s Festival of Trees event a free tree.
So far, the tree farm has eight different school groups booked for tours this season with room for more.
“We let them spend a little time in the teepee. They roast marshmallows, then ride the wagon where we explain how we plant the trees, trim them and how long it takes to grow them,” Sparks said. “Then they have lunch or play on the playground — whatever they like to do.”
The tree farm is handicap accessible and Wifi is available.
“We’ve been in business for over 10 years,” Sparks said.
MR and MS Trees is located at 342 ACR 2908 in Tucker, 12 miles from Palestine. From Palestine going down U.S. 79 South, take FM 645 in Tucker at the blinking yellow light just past Walmart Warehouse. Go 2.2 miles, take CR 2907, which will be the second road on left after turning off of U.S. 79. Drive to the end of the road until you see the store and sign on the right.
“Don’t use Google to find the farm — it may send you the wrong direction — make sure you are going toward Tucker,” Sparks warned.
For more information, call MR and MS Trees at 903-538-0160 or online at www.mrandmstrees.com