Bladen Optimists expecting to sell out of Christmas trees

By: By Chrysta Carroll -

ELIZABETHTOWN – For at least one Bladen County group, the Christmas trees are half decorated.

Each year, the Optimist Club of Bladen County sells Christmas trees, and their chosen spot is in front of San José Mexican Restuarant on West Broad Street in Elizabethtown. This year, the group started selling on Tuesday, Nov. 22, and has already made a huge dent in its sales.

“We started out with 150 trees, and we’re down to 37 in just over a week,” said Optimist Club member Emery White.

On Wednesday, when asked how long it would take to sell the remainder, he joked that he expected to sell them all that night, to which fellow club member Jay Raynor responded, “We’re optimists, after all.”

The fraser firs were delivered in late November from a spot in the North Carolina mountains, but club members declined to disclose the location, joking that they don’t give away all their secrets.

On Wednesday, the group was trimming a base with a chain saw and drilling a hole in the bottom to set it on a tree stand, that, combined with the stack of fresh wreaths lying in the shed, created the unmistakable holiday scent of fresh pine.

“There’s nothing better than a fresh-cut Christmas tree,” said White.

Raynor agreed.

“You can’t beat it. All the fraser firs were great last year, but the ones we got this year are perfect,” he said. “They’re really beautiful.”

Trees range from $39 to $79 depending in height, and all money raised benefits the youth of Bladen County. Soccer programs, as well as basketball and baseball programs in Bladen County, are recipients of funds from the tree sale. Just last year, the group spent $4,000 on a new scoreboard for the county park.

The Optimist Club also donates annually to the boys’ and girls’ homes in Lake Waccamaw, where a building is named for the benefactors, and provides scholarships to students at East Bladen, West Bladen, and Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy.

To further support its efforts, the Optimist Club is holding its annual BBQ plate sale on Saturday. For $7, guests will receive BBQ pork, cole slaw, green beans, and bread. The plate sale will be held in the Food Lion parking lot on West Broad Street in Elizabethtown.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.

By Chrysta Carroll