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Making Spirits Bright In COVID-19 Era; Ventura County Christmas Tree Lot Keeps Traditions Alive

(KCLU photo)
Dave's Christmas Trees in Santa Paula has been prviding live cut trees to Ventura County for decades, but owner Dave Wills feels that what he is doing is more important than ever this year to help people cope with the stress of the pandemic.

It’s a busy night at Dave’s Christmas Trees.  Dave Wills is sort of an institution in Santa Paula.  He's been offering up trees for nearly four decades.

It’s been a holiday season unlike any other in recent memory, and families are showing up to get trees to bring a sense of normalcy to their homes.

Len and Kenna Gonzales, and their daughter Delia have just picked out a tree which is being loaded on their SUV for their trip home to Ventura.  Kenna Gonzales says there’s no question the holidays season feels strange, and feels bad they won't be able to have their big annual family Christmas celebration because of COVID-19 safety concerns.

Her 18 year old daughter says it hasn’t been an easy year.  Because of the virus, her high school graduation ceremony ended up being a drive through event.  Now, her family won't be able to get together for the holidays.  But, she says they've been making the most of the situation, and hope buying and decorating a tree will help.

The lot near the Santa Paula train depot has a hometown, holiday feel.  There’s a little bonfire, and holiday music is playing.  Family members are helping Wills run the lot.  His family is in Ventura County, but he lives in Oregon, which is where the trees are grown.

He was worried that the pandemic might affect sales, but it's actually been a good year.

Wills feels what he’s doing is more important than ever this year, because the trees give people a sense of family, even if everyone can’t be together this holiday season.  Wills believes he’s doing more than selling trees.  It’s a holiday tradition for him, his family, and for hundreds of regular customers.  And, he says if there’s ever a year we need some positive spirit, it’s this year.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.