A tree giveaway Saturday in Post Falls offered the festive atmosphere of a carnival for hundreds of people who formed a line as long as a football field to get some free foliage.
No carnival would be complete without a barker, and this one had 11-year-old Evan Barton.
“Get your Bloodgoods here,” he bellowed. “Bloodgoods here. Get ‘em while they last.”
Evan was hawking the Bloodgood London Planetree, one of more than a half-dozen species of 6- to 8-foot-tall landscape trees being distributed by a coalition of local businesses, the city Urban Forestry Department and a three-city arbor education organization.
The Community Canopy organization – a partnership of the Post Falls, Coeur d’Alene and Hayden city governments – offered pamphlets and personal advice under a big tent at the head of the queue. A top tip: Keep weed whackers away from trees.
At the other end of the line, business was brisk except for Evan and his Bloodgoods.
“There haven’t been a lot of takers,” he confided.
Although a beautiful and hardy member of the Sycamore family, the Bloodgood London Planetree gets big and produces a lot of leaves.
Also, it’s poisonous and probably comes from London, according to Evan, one of a dozen or so volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 206.
Other trees were flying out of the mulch as fast as 7-year-old Briana Cooper, from Brownie Troop 146, could guide people to their chosen species and trot back for whoever was next in line.
“Those ones are poisonous,” she told Post Falls residents Ken and Sandy Leight, correctly indicting the Golden Chaintree – which was next to the sound-alike but innocent Bloodgood London Planetree.
The Leights were pleased with the event and delighted with Briana’s service.
“She’s very sweet,” Sandy Leight said.
She said she and her husband, both gardening enthusiasts, were planning to replace three trees that had died.
The Leights knew what they wanted, but Hayden resident Trisha Miles was grateful when an adult volunteer steered her away from thorny, kid-proof Washington Hawthorns.
“We don’t want those,” she said to her children, 9-year-old Madison and 5-year-old Shelby.
Hostess Emily Allis, 7, moved in with professional efficiency when Miles made her selection.
“Now you go right over there, and they’ll bag them up for you,” Emily advised.
After getting their roots rinsed, mulched and wrapped, Miles and the other tree recipients trudged back to their cars like hobos with too much bindle for their sticks.
Kari Maple, who didn’t change her name for the occasion, thought the giveaway was great.
“It brings lots of people to our city,” she said. “We’ve got our whole family down here.”
Maple said the trees would help shield her 5-acre property from one of the many new subdivisions going up in the area.
That’s just the idea, according to city forester Linden Lampman, who did change her name. (With too many Lindas on a flag football team years ago, she switched to a tree name.)
A group of businesses, all associated with development, donated Saturday’s trees because an “urban canopy” adds value to neighborhoods and mitigates the effects of growth. Trees lure songbirds, provide oxygen and create “a community feeling,” she said.
She estimated the value of the 3,000 trees distributed Saturday at $40,000, but the donations didn’t stop there.
Other businesses donated compost, water tanks, refreshments for the volunteers and more, Lampman said.
Tree recipients also donated cash, which will be used in part to support the Community Canopy organization.
After the initial rush at 9 a.m., the waiting line held steady at 150 feet until 11 a.m., when it dropped to the trickle that was expected until the giveaway ended at 3 p.m.
By the time the crowd thinned out, barker Evan Barton was turning lemons into lemonade with a little help from fellow Boy Scout Ricky Scuderi.
“Bloodgoods! We’ve still got a full stock,” Ricky called out.
“Why get a small tree when you can get a big one?” Evan shouted. “Why get a stick when you can get a tree?”