Altus_In Altus, it's the end of an era, as the Sandy Hills Christmas Tree Farm sells trees for its final holiday season. The farm opened on Friday morning and families streamed in to choose their trees. Owners Al and Sylvia Sasse have been supplying Christmas trees for living rooms across Southwest Oklahoma for 21 years, but this year will be their last. They say their well has literally run dry as a drought that began in the late 90s began to dry everything up, and without water, they are unable to continue.
Former 7News Reporter Kenny Scarle says he has been shopping for his Christmas trees from Sandy Hills for the past eight years, and his son Michael loves to see the tractor when they're there. "He loves to see the tree hoisted on the tractor and get it hauled away," said Kenny. Michael also helps dad dig and cut their tree down.
Sylvia Sasse says that each family has their own tradition when choosing their tree, such as cutting off a piece of it and taking it home. "We mark it with the date and use it - we call it a tree cookie," she said. Al says this last season will be bittersweet. "We're not going to miss the work but we're going to miss all the people," he said. In their heyday in the year 2000, the Sasse's took care of 17,000 trees - this season they have only 700.
Al says that many folks come to see the tree shaker that shakes loose needles from the trees. Others, he says, like simply like being outdoors. He says he'll miss seeing his friends. "It's just an awesome thing for families to come out and do, and we're just really sad to see it go."The Sasse's say they have a big vacation planned, though. "We're gonna load up the car and go to Branson for a week - kick back and relax," they said. They say that they plan to keep the 15-acres of land in good shape. They want to take care of the land and the wildlife that have made a home at the farm. The Sasse's moved to the area from Washington State where there a lot of trees. They say they wanted to spread that joy to Oklahoma which is why they started the tree farm decades ago.