Falmouth hockey boosters' fundraiser still evergreen after 20 years

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FALMOUTH — There may be an ongoing controversy over what it’s called – a Christmas tree, a holiday tree or a firefighter’s nightmare – but a lot of people will be out buying those sappy, fragrant firs during the next few weeks, whatever they call them.

While some households have shed tradition for the shed-free, artificial variety, many still pine for the real thing.

And one place they can find them is in the Falmouth Shopping Center on Route 1, where the Falmouth Hockey Association has been pitching its product since public school hockey teams first came to town 20 years ago.

About 70 people will help sell the trees this year, said Mary Sue Mainella, who co-chairs the sale with Joel Noyes.

“We expect families to sell, as well as the players,” she said. “We ordered 300 trees this year; last year, we had the same number and sold out a weekend early.”

With use of the lot donated by the shopping center and storage trailers supplied by Bill Phipps of Yarmouth Lumber, the sale nets the group about $6,000 and is its biggest fundraiser of the year, Mainella said.

When hockey was new to Falmouth, and the boosters had just organized, the group tried to make its money by selling $20 raffle tickets for a new automobile, former member Nancy Goslin said.

“I lost a lot of friends that way,” Goslin said. “Anywhere I went, I was asking people to buy a raffle ticket. (The raffle) was profitable, but not to the extent we needed it to be.”

So the association branched out, turning its attention from raffling a product one winner could drive off in, to selling one any buyer could drive off with – the family tree.

And Goslin learned every family had a different way of buying one.

In some cases, Goslin said, a husband who’d been told to pick up the tree on his way home from work would simply point to the first one he saw, saying, “I’ll take that one.” In others, the whole family, including the dog, would come and spend an hour or more choosing the perfect tree – or sometimes leaving for the next lot after rejecting 50 or more, she said.

But only one family in Goslin’s memory ever took the boosters up on their money-back guarantee, issued the year all the trees came frozen.

“We would tell the people to take them home, thaw them out and, if they weren’t happy with them, bring them back,” she said. “For the most part, people that knew who we were and what we were doing out there were very receptive to purchasing a tree from an organization helping kids.”

Then there were a few others who may have chosen not to pay. Goslin has fond but chilly memories of camping out in the shopping center parking lot with her husband in their Dodge van to guard against tree theft.

“If there was activity in the area or a car parked, we figured it would deter (thieves),” Goslin said. “Everything we were able to fundraise and profit from we needed – every penny.”

The boosters are counting on the sale of every tree to help defray the cost of the middle school boys and girls hockey teams and the high school boys hockey team. The high school girls team has a separate fundraiser, Mainella said.

Tree prices range from $30 to $60. The lot is until Christmas on Fridays from 5:30-9 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information, visit the Falmouth Hockey Association Web site or call 233-4686.

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or proberts@theforecaster.net.

n-falHockeyTrees1-120309.jpgThe Falmouth Hockey Association has been selling Christmas trees at the Falmouth Shopping Center on Route 1 for 20 years. Two tractor trailers store the trees, which will be sold Friday evenings and Saturdays and Sundays during the next three weekends.

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n-falHockeyTrees2-120309.jpgFalmouth Hockey Association tree sale co-chairwomen Mary Sue Mainella and Joel Noyes prepare for the annual sale to benefit middle and high school boys and middle school girls hockey teams in town. The event nets about $6,000 a year for the organization.