With his big, bushy white beard, Mike Peters looks a little like Santa Claus. And in a way, he does help to bring Christmas to the community of Copper Cliff.
For the past 22 years, Peters has run a Christmas tree lot out of his Balsam Street backyard as a fundraiser for the First Copper Cliff Scouts.
Peters opened the tree lot this year on Nov. 24, the same day as the community's nearby tree-lighting event.
“You see a lot of the families, after the tree lighting, a lot of people came back after that to see what was going on and get a tree that night,” he said.
People have commented to him that they just love the smell of the trees in his backyard and it looks like “a fairy tale” with the lights strung up everywhere.
“I guess it's part of Christmas now,” Peters said.
Peters, who was involved in the Scouts when his three sons were young, started the fundraiser back in 1996 with 100 trees. Because the demand just keeps growing, he now brings in about 300 trees.
Trees range in price from $35 to $100, depending on size. Peters mostly carries Fraser fir, which keep their needles for about a month. The tree lot also sells Fraser fir wreaths.
Volunteers will deliver your tree right to your door.
Earning about $5 to $7 per tree, the fundraiser brings in a couple thousand dollars for the Scout troop.
Even during a recent weekday visit from Sudbury.com, Peters had several customers, including father and daughter Bernie Freelandt and Kristine Sanderson.
Sanderson said she likes being able to support a good cause. “If you're going to buy a tree, might as well give back,” she said.
Besides, “this is a very nice tree,” said Freelandt, adding that years ago, he used to go out into the bush and chop down his own trees. He said he just loves the smell of a natural Christmas tree.
While it's appreciated by the community, Peters said selling Christmas trees is a lot of work.
He said he couldn't do it without volunteer help from his wife, grown sons, the Fleming family, the father-in-law of one of his sons and the First Copper Cliff Scouts.
“You can't stop,” he said. “Everybody says we'll see you next year, so how do you stop?”
Peters is down to a handful of trees at this point***, so if you want to purchase one, it's best to get down there as soon as possible.
You can check out the tree lot at 10 Balsam St. in Copper Cliff. It's open every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. until the trees are gone. You can call ahead at 705-682-2941.
***Since this article was published on Dec. 3, the Peters' tree lot has sold out for 2018. There's always next year!