Good to be Green

Victor’s Christmas Trees Sourced from Mt. Shasta…

It’s 2023, and the the tallest live cut tree this year in Orange County owes its provenance to Mt. Shasta. During its tenure at the San Clemente Outlets, the 100-foot white fir will undoubtedly delight thousands of shoppers with more than 18,000 lights and 10,000 bows and ornaments. “The biggest tree we’ve ever sourced from Mt. Shasta was a 140-foot tree for Enid, Okla.,” explains Victor Serrao of Victor’s Christmas Trees, the family-run company that oversees the placement of trees in famous shopping centers around Southern California and the Bay Area. It promises to “bring the joy and spirit of the holidays in a unique and extravagant way” and is the world’s largest distributor of live, fully decorated Christmas trees. “Trees from Mt. Shasta have ended up all over, in places like The Citadel Outlets, Fashion Island, The Grove and the Americana.”

Photo courtesy of Victor Serrao.

Serrao is a second-generation Christmas tree vendor and has been in the business of big trees his entire life. He got his start working alongside his father at 8 years old. “My parents had a Christmas tree lot once upon a time and were ‘yes’ people, meaning they would make all sorts of strange requests happen. For example, someone wanted a pink flocked tree and so they made a pink flocked tree. Then my dad, Vito, got into commercial-sized trees.” Serrao also remembers when the family learned about Mt. Shasta. “We heard about the area through a referral, and it’s been a great relationship ever since. We love the area, and people are warm, honest and hardworking. The forests are managed well, the management companies are great to work with, and locals have become our family.”

Photos courtesy of Victor Serrao

According to the company website, Victor’s Christmas Trees employs around 70 people year-round. Trees are carefully selected from pre-selected timber sale, so instead of just becoming lumber, pencils or paper products, they first create a magical holiday experience. Serrao explains that the perfect Christmas tree is always a white fir, and it takes long days of driving around and scouting to find them. “What makes them perfect is a full top, or crown, as it’s called by foresters. We can add extra branches to make it full and perfect in the lower parts, but you can’t do that to the top since the trunk is so thin up there. You also want a straight trunk with no bows or S-curves in it.”

Photos courtesy of Victor Serrao

A 100-foot tree weighs around 15,000 pounds and has a base diameter of about 30 inches, so transporting it is no easy feat. It’s generally transported more than 600 miles and requires a long flatbed truck. It is also transported at night so as not to jam freeway traffic. Once onsite, a tree of that magnitude requires a crane for set up. When everything is said and done, a fully decorated 100-foot tree will eventually top the scales around 25,000 pounds. “It’s a lot of work, but we love what we do and hope that everyone enjoys it as well. And, when you see a tree put up and people are awed by it, taking pictures in front of it and celebrating family, friends and the holidays, it’s all worth it.”

Photos courtesy of Victor Serrao

These days, Victor’s Christmas Trees is a family business that now spans three generations, with his daughter Sienna Stoeffler working alongside him as a project manager. As for his own Christmas tree, Victor’s selections are more modest and traditional. “In our home we have two Christmas trees, an 8-foot in our front window that’s more decorative and stylish, and then a 6-foot in our living room that has all the memories and personal ornaments from our life growing as
a family.”•

Victor’s Christmas Trees
Santa’s Christmas Lighting
(949) 248-8733

Tree Facts

Origin of the Christmas Tree: The tradition of bringing evergreen trees indoors and decorating them during the winter season dates back to ancient civilizations, including the Egyptians, Romans and Vikings. However, the modern Christmas tree tradition is often attributed to Germany.

First Christmas Tree Lights: The use of candles to light Christmas trees began in the 17th century. Thomas Edison’s assistant, Edward Johnson, is credited with the invention of the first electric Christmas lights in 1882.

Tallest Christmas Tree: The world’s tallest cut Christmas tree was a 221-foot Douglas fir displayed in Seattle in 1950.

Types of Trees: Common types of Christmas trees include the Fraser fir, Balsam fir, Douglas fir, Noble fir, and the Eastern White Pine. Each has its own unique characteristics.

Christmas Tree Farms: Christmas tree farming is a significant industry. In the United States, there are more than 15,000 Christmas tree farms, and around 25-30 million real Christmas trees are sold each year.

Rockefeller Center Tree: The annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York City has been a tradition since 1933. The tree is often a massive Norway spruce.

Tinsel Traditions: Tinsel, once made of real silver, was originally used to reflect candlelight. Today, it’s typically made of aluminum or plastic.

The Guinness World Record: The record for the most lights on an artificial Christmas tree is held by a tree in Portugal, with more than 800,000 lights.

Tree Toppers: Tree toppers, like angels or stars, symbolize the Star of Bethlehem and are placed at the top of the tree.

The National Christmas Tree: The lighting of the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C., has been a presidential tradition since 1923.

Article written by:

Megan Peterson has been a freelance storyteller for more than two decades, with writing credits ranging from National Geographic to the Sundance Channel. She also brings a background in marketing and audio tours, and has traveled and worked on six continents. Megan currently lives in Northern California with her family and a menagerie of pets.

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