Move over Santa Claus … here comes Mr. Christmas | AspenTimes.com

Move over Santa Claus … here comes Mr. Christmas

Charles Agar

Mr. Christmas, aka Michael Carter, poses with one of his signature wreaths - "the largest in Aspen," he said. He raised $5,000 for Aspen youth hockey this year. (Charles Agar/The Aspen Times)

Aspen, CO ColoradoASPEN Michael Carter, aka Mr. Christmas, raised $5,000 this year for Aspen youth hockey – and a total of $20,000 over the past few years – selling Christmas trees near Clark’s market.”It gets better every year,” Carter said. “Every once in a while we break out the karaoke machines and see who rips one out,” he said. And on some weekends, Santa Claus is on-hand to listen to the wishes of kids and hand out candy donated by nearby Clark’s Market.Carter also dispenses his own brand of humor and friendly wisdom with his tannenbaums.

“I sold trees when I was a kid with my dad,” he said. First on the Rowland’s lot in the center of Aspen and later across from the Hickory House on West Main Street. He’s been in business since 1972.In the off-season, Carter imports goods from India and Indonesia. He also helps with a fundraiser for Aspen Middle School’s once-every-two-year trip to Ignacio de Allende in Mexico.Carter used to help area non-profits by wholesaling wreaths, but volunteer agencies often ran short of volunteers. Today he runs a standard shop, hires helpers, assumes the financial risk and gives non-profits a percentage of the profits.

All of Carter’s trees are from northern Michigan. He’ll be in the courtyard in front of Clark’s Market through today (Dec. 24) – right up to the last minute, he said. “There are really two seasons to the business,” he said. One is early December when locals buy their trees, and the other is the last minute sales near Christmas when visitors come to Aspen in droves.”It gets really hectic,” Carter said of the tourist crunch.

Carter also runs a sale at Wind River in El Jebel for the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, which netted local skiers $1,500 this year. And he supports wreath sales at the Waldorf School and the Carbondale Middle School.Heather Kemp at Sashae, a florist and gift shop adjacent to Clark’s, said the tree sale is an important part of making the area a one-stop shop for holiday makers who can buy food, liquor, flowers, rent videos, send their Christmas packages and pick up a tree all in one trip. And there’s even available parking on top of it all, she said.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is cagar@aspentimes.com.

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