OCONTO — Colleen Rost drove to Whispering Pines Tree Farm last November intending to purchase a green Christmas tree.
But the moment she saw one of the farm’s blue trees, Rost immediately changed her mind.
“Right away, the first thing that came into my mind was the song ‘Blue Christmas’ by Elvis Presley,” said Rost, who lives nearby in Coleman. “I really like Elvis, so I knew I was going to have a blue Christmas because of that tree. I just knew I had to have that tree. I put a blue star up on top, and bought some blue lights for it and put my Elvis statue right next to the tree.
“I always wanted a blue Christmas tree because of Elvis, and it really turned out to be a nice one,” she said.
Rost is among a growing number of people enamored with painted Christmas trees, which can come in an array of colors.
The live trees are painted with a specially formulated latex, nontoxic colorant.
Dave and Mary Vander Velden, owners of Whispering Pines, offered colored Christmas trees last year for the first time, complementing their vast selection of traditional (i.e., non-painted) green trees. The 45 colored trees — which came in purple, blue and pink — quickly sold out.
This holiday season, the Vander Veldens expect to nearly double the number of colored trees, which will come in copper, purple, dark blue, light blue and fuchsia.
Dave suspects they’re popular because “they’re something different. Which works for us, because we’re always up for something different.”
Added Mary: “They’re a fun novelty. You have a Christmas party and you’ve got a purple tree — people will talk about that. It’s something different, something fun.”
Several tree farms throughout the state offer colored Christmas trees. Whispering Pines uses paint from Kirk Company, a Christmas tree-oriented business whose Wisconsin branch is based in Wautoma.
Dave said each tree requires only one coat of paint, which is applied using a spray device and takes only a few minutes. Whispering Pines offers traditional, cut-your-own trees that are either spruce, white pine, balsam fir or Fraser fir. Dave only paints balsam fir “because they look better painted than the other trees.”
The Vander Veldens posted a video of tree painting on the Whispering Pines Facebook page, and within the first two days it received more than 15,000 views and elicited hundreds of positive comments. Mary said people were inquiring about colored trees as early as the week of Halloween. “They’re just really popular,” she said.
Some people ask about custom-color trees, or finding a tree on site and then having it colored to their liking. That isn’t possible, however, since the temperature is too low to paint them now. It’s strictly a first-come, first-served situation based on the available colored trees still standing.
Dave even had a little fun with the colored trees.
“I told my nephew we plant purple seeds to make the purple trees,” Dave said. “He looked at me like, ‘Really?’ So I quickly told him no. I didn’t want him actually thinking that’s how we did it.”