When Brandon Michielli was considering opening a Christmas tree lot this year, he thought about what he could do to be different from the numerous other tree lots that dot busy intersections this time of year.
The idea he came up with has been a strong hit with families. Children are allowed to write a letter to Santa. The paper is attached to a homing pigeon, also known as a rock dove, which is then tossed gently into the air to fly to the North Pole and deliver it. “They are Santa’s Christmas doves,” Michielli said. “It’s been huge. Kids just go crazy for it.”
The birds sit in cages in a trailer, awaiting their moment in the spotlight. “My father has 200 of them,” Michielli said. “He races them as a hobby.” He set one on its way and watched it wing over busy Pines Road, heading north.
Michielli is selling trees on the southwest corner of Pines Road and Mansfield Avenue, where his company stores landscaping materials. He is the general manager of the hauling and landscaping company Circle M when the weather is nicer. It’s a company now owned by his father that his grandfather started nearly 40 years ago.
The Christmas tree lot is a bit tucked back from the street, but there’s a sign on Pines to point the way. “We had Santa out there for a few days, waving,” he said. News of the unique perk he is offering has apparently been spreading by word of mouth, though he did get some publicity from a local television station. “I had kids just stopping in to send letters to Santa Claus,” he said. “I don’t mind if they don’t want to buy a tree.”
Michielli hopes they will buy one, though, since he prides himself on having the best trees. “We’ve got the freshest trees in town,” he said. “They’re fresh daily. We cut them ourselves.”
On Tuesday afternoon he was unloading a batch of freshly cut trees to join the bushy, nicely shaped trees already on the lot. He said he tries to get a mix of sizes, some trees thick with boughs and others a little thinner. Prices range from $20 for a “table tree” to $45 for a 6-footer. The tree lot is open daily from noon to 7 p.m. Michielli said he might be offering some discounts this weekend since it is the last weekend before Christmas. He also has a nice pile of boughs trimmed from the trees. They’re free for the taking, he said. “I’ve got tons and tons of it if someone wants it.”