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Where do Longboaters get their Christmas trees?

With no on-island tree lots, town residents share their approaches to the Longboat Key tree dilemma.

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Stereotypical Christmas movie scenes of picking out a tree on a farm aren't realistic for most Florida residents.

So the question of artificial or real comes down to preference or necessity. But if a real tree is the way to go, options are limited to tree lots at local businesses or places like Home Depot or Lowe’s.

So the Observer asked a few Longboat Key residents about their Christmas tree solutions.

Cyndi Seamon

Cyndi Seamon's favorite ornament is this glass icicle purchased that she purchased in Minneapolis in 1988. For her, it's a reminder of the northern winters.
Courtesy image

Artificial trees have been a staple for Cyndi Seamon and her household. 

The Longboat Key Turtle Watch vice president said her parents used to always get a flocked, white tree but since she’s been in charge, it’s been all about artificial trees. 

She had one that moved to Longboat Key with her from Minnesota. It lasted many years, she said, but eventually they had to buy a new one and had to downsize to adjust to condo living. 

One of the benefits, she said, is that she can put the tree up right after Thanksgiving and keep it up well into January. 

But she also likes to use artificial pine scents around the tree to give that true evergreen scent. 

Howard Tipton

For Town Manager Howard Tipton and his family, one tree simply isn’t enough.

Town Manager Howard Tipton poses with the tree at town hall. At home, he has two of his own.
Photo by Carter Weinhofer

He said his household switched to artificial trees around 2010, first wanting to try it because of the ease and ability to buy one pre-lit. Generally, he’s found it to be a good experience and easier to handle. 

But due to the amount of ornaments that need to be hung, one artificial tree has turned into two: one filled with holiday ornaments, and one that takes on a more modern look. 

Chris and Justina Carter, and Lorenzo Condensa 

In February, Justina and Chris Carter opened Sips in Whitney Beach Plaza. Justina's brother Lorenzo Condensa recently moved to Longboat full-time and works at the shop with them.

Lorenzo Condensa, Justina Carter and Chris Carter.
Photo by Carter Weinhofer

Since moving to Florida, Justina and Chris Carter have kept the live tree tradition alive by going to parking lot tree lots or places like Home Depot.

This year, they found one in a "random" lot in Sarasota.

Chris’s family always had artificial trees as he was growing up, but for the Condensas, real trees have always been important. Lorenzo said their family would always get a tree a day or two before Christmas, and that decorating the tree the day before was always a special tradition.

Now it’s still the same, and he’s looking forward to getting the tree soon.



Carter Weinhofer

Carter Weinhofer is the Longboat Key news reporter for the Observer. Originally from a small town in Pennsylvania, he moved to St. Petersburg to attend Eckerd College until graduating in 2023. During his entire undergraduate career, he worked at the student newspaper, The Current, holding positions from science reporter to editor-in-chief.

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