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Updated Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 3 PM EST

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Above, David Schienke has come every year to purchase trees for family, friends and his shop, Schienke Products located in Romeo. Below, Connie Firestine, Ray Township, found a "Batter Up" tree for her grandson who plays baseball, and "Please Mr. Postman" tree for her husband who is a mail carrier.

(Observer photos by Judith Kimpan)

Octagon House puts 253
trees up for sale in 2013

by JUDITH KIMPAN
Observer Special Writer
      No muss, no fuss and guests carry home a decorated Christmas tree before Thanksgiving.
       Visitors arrived from as far away as Grosse Pointe, Anchor Bay and Metamora to join area attendees to get first dibs on the decorated Christmas trees offered for sale at the Loren Andrus Octagon House.
       The Octagon House held its annual soiree Nov. 22 and 23. The tree sale will continue and trees will be displayed at future events at the Octagon House until Dec. 16. The schedule of events may be viewed at the website: www.octagonhouse.org.
       Guests were welcomed in from a blustery winter evening to a bit of bling, sparkling and brightly adorned trees, each with a different theme. Themes ran the gamut from an azure blue and maize decorated University of Michigan tree, to a tiny primitive tree composed of artfully arranged rags.
       It wasn't just the warmth of the room but the welcome from the volunteers, as one stopped to "ooh and ah" over each of the 253 decorated trees.
       Trees ranged in size; most could be purchased and carried out that evening. Full-size trees and garlands were sold and left on display until Dec. 16, allowing more time for future guests to enjoy them.
       This is the third year Julia Kropa, senior at Romeo High School, played her flute while guests meandered up and down four floors where decorated trees were displayed. She played Christmas favorites such as "I'll be home for Christmas" to put guests in an early Christmas mood.
       Tammi Graber, Octagon House Christmas coordinator, started gathering supplies for the trees when school let out in June.
       "We love every second of it," said Graber. "This is not just volunteer work, this is our hobby."
       Susan Stieber DiPace, president of Friends of the Octagon House and organizer, felt the changes to this year's fundraiser helped with traffic flow of guests and introduced a VIP hour.
       "You know who our VIPs are? Our volunteers," Dipace said.
       The VIP hour started an hour before opening to the guests. Volunteers were able to sample sweet and savory hors d'oeuvres and had an opportunity to view the trees before the doors opened to guests.
       "The volunteers need to come first," DiPace said.
       After the VIP hour, volunteers began work as servers and circulated with trays of hors d'oeuvres instead of food set on tables, allowing more room for trees.
       The Christmas tree sale is the main fundraiser for the Octagon House and many guests are repeat visitors.
       David Schienke, owner of Schienke Products in Romeo, has come every year for the last four years.
       "I love it. You don't have to decorate, it's all done and I like that," Schienke said.
       He buys trees for his shop, home and for friends.
       Connie Firestine, a Ray Township resident, also buys several trees.
       This year she found a "Batter-up" tree for her grandson who plays baseball and a tree called "Please Mr. Postman" for her husband who is a mail carrier.
       This is the first time for Romeo resident Stacy Amey. She selected a "Merry Christmas" tree.
       "This has everything that represents Christmas on it," said Amey.
       "I love this. I will come again."
      
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