In the spirit of Christmas, Paul Kapr, owner of what has been known as Big Dipper Christmas Trees and Wreaths, will again be giving back to the community this holiday season. Last year Kapr generously donated more trees than any previous year, and this year he will play Secret Santa again.
The Christmas of 2011, after the devastating flood, initially inspired Kapr to give away trees, and he has decided to keep the new tradition going. Partnering with the Open Door Mission in Owego, N.Y., Kapr plans to again increase the number of trees he donates to families in need.
In addition to his location on Route 434 in Apalachin, N.Y., Kapr also owns and operates a location on Old Vestal Road in Vestal, N.Y. at Amish Woodworks, and another location in the Ulster/Towanda, Pa. area.
As returning customers have realized and others may have noticed, Kapr’s Apalachin location has moved across the road, allowing needed space. In the future, Kapr’s business will be renamed “Mr. Christmas” and will stay located in front of the Mister Koffee building on Route 434. Mr. Christmas will continue to offer fresh, local trees and custom, handmade wreaths in all the same locations.
Kapr’s enthusiasm for the Christmas tree business was originally sparked over ten years ago by a visit to Chase’s tree farm in Little Meadows, Pa. He ended up working there, and later assumed ownership of Big Dipper Christmas Trees from Alan Chase. Kapr has since connected with retired tree farmers from the Pierce family, who had a Christmas tree farm for many years on Lillie Hill Road in Apalachin. Kapr appreciates the mentorship both Chase and the Pierce’s have shared, and intends to keep the Christmas tree business alive in the area.
“I feel like the torch has been handed off to me,” Kapr said.
Trees sold now at Kapr’s locations come from the Southern Tier of New York and Northeast Pennsylvania. Tree farms are located in Warren Center, Pa., Owego and Apalachin, and Kapr hopes to expand that to other potential farms in Binghamton and Northeast Pennsylvania.
Two thousand and five hundred trees were planted in the spring this year, and he expects about 2,500 trees to be planted in 2015. Kapr shared, “My goal is to plant one tree for every tree sold.” Trees planted and sold include a variety of firs, spruces, and balsams, among others.
“Trees need years to mature, about a year for every foot,” Kapr explained.
Trees sold at all of Kapr’s locations are always fresh. When a customer purchases a tree, Kapr said, “That tree was cut within a few days or within the week.” In future years, Kapr has a goal to restore the art of the self-cut tree and offer the experience to customers at his tree farms.
Future plans also include adding more varieties of handmade wreaths. For example, while cutting trees this season, Kapr’s crew came upon several trees that featured unique vines, so those were removed to create vine wreaths. The one-of-a-kind vine wreaths have a rustic, country look and are sold at Kapr’s three locations.
For customers still looking for the perfect tree, Big Dipper Christmas Tree locations will be open until Christmas Eve, Wednesday, Dec. 24. Individuals or families who would like to be considered to receive a free tree are asked to stop by the Open Door Mission, located at 245 North Ave. in Owego, N.Y. starting at 4:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24.
Follow Big Dipper Christmas Trees and Wreaths on Facebook or call (607) 972-1796 for information.