Near And Far Away:
Imagine being hundreds of miles from home during the holiday season and spending your nights sleeping in a car or trailer just to earn some extra money.
hours are long and you spend much of your time outdoors.
weather is often cold and unforgiving.
Christmas draws nearer,
they are in it for money, for themselves or to help others, all have a job
that is helping spread the holiday spirit in
a cold morning this week, Canadian citizen Joel Poirier sat inside his four
by four truck in a parking lot of a Taco Bell in
He was not there for an early lunch, he meant business – selling Christmas trees.
is one of many who have spent long hours, sometimes overnight, on the
32, owns a mountain bike tour business back home in
love for mountain biking has brought him to places like Colorado and Utah
but this year, as the cold weather brought in less business, he decided to
pack his things with a friend and come to New York to sell his trees.
my first year doing this,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity.”
than 50 trees occupied a corner space of the parking lot where Poirier has
set up shop selling trees from his native country.
trees are from
Poirier will be away from home for the holidays, he doesn’t seem to mind
much, especially after being able to experience
my first time here,” he told the Tribune. “I haven’t really
been to big cities. I expected it to be crazy but people here are really
here twenty-four seven,” Poirier said.
and his business partner came to
been here since late-November. I haven’t had much time for seeing stuff,
I’ve only been in Queens.” he said.
plans to be working long hours until Christmas Day or until he runs out of
trees to sell.
depends on how much trees we have left,” before he gets to see some of the
said he would like to visit Ground Zero and take in some of the sights
around the Big Apple.
could go anywhere in the world (but) this is
Christmas Day however, he will enjoy spending his time doing his job.
“I enjoy bargaining. It’s fun. I’m planning to come back.”
a modest camper just off the busy intersection of
He was there to sell Christmas trees and to help others less fortunate than him.
are trying to raise money for donations for Aurora Concepts, a drug program
for adolescents and adults,” said 42-year-old De La Cruz.
are kids with no parents and people recovering from substance abuse,” De
La Cruz said as he displayed the medal on the chain around his neck.
am a graduate myself,” he said of the program based in
want to give something to the kids for the holidays. I do it because it
helps me keep in touch with myself, ” he said.
De La Cruz of
is not bad . . . can’t complain.”
La Cruz is part of a three-man team taking shifts selling trees at the
typical day at the Bayside sight is comprised of helping customers and
spending down time inside a nearby parked camper equipped with a heater and
“There’s always someone (working) here. We have a guy stay here all night,” De La Cruz said.
La Cruz said that selling trees has earned him the chance to learn more
offer two types of trees – balsam and frasier,” he said.
trees have long-lasting needles and smell good, he explained.
you put them in water, they last longer,” De La Cruz said. “When you
take them down there’s no mess in your apartment,” he said.
trees are also good for use as Christmas trees but Balsam trees have a
stronger fragrance, according to De La Cruz.
of the trees he sells come from
Keil Brothers Inc. in Bayside, they know about Christmas trees. After all,
they have been selling them to the residents of
to Richard Thomas, assistant manager at Keil Brothers and grandson of Henry
Keil who started the business 71-years ago, there are certain things
everyone who purchases a Christmas tree should do to maintain a fresh look
throughout the holidays.
to Thomas, once you get the tree home you should put it in hot water.
times after a few days, people start to add cold water,” Thomas said.
“Hot water keeps the sap from sealing itself and causing the tree to dry
also suggested that instead of discarding unused tree branches from the
bottom of the Christmas tree, customers should use the branches.
are great to use behind a manger or as a table arrangement, he said.
Brothers sells trees “right up until Christmas Eve.”
cold weather is keeping the trees fresher than in years past,” Thomas
favorite thing about selling Christmas trees is seeing the generations of
families who drop by to buy them.
like a family night,” he said.
more information about Keil Brothers, located at