SCARBOROUGH – The tryptophan from Thanksgiving’s turkey feast had barely worn off when 450 fir trees, bundled in mesh netting, were dropped off during Friday morning’s chilling wind and rain.

A dozen volunteers — members of the Rotary Club of Scarborough and students from Scarborough High School — unloaded the delivery truck within an hour and set up shop for the club’s annual Christmas tree sale at the Mobile Station on the corner of Route 1 and Black Point Road.

“We have been doing this for 20 years,” Richard Murphy, president of the Rotary Club of Scarborough. “It is a significant source of funding and has become a tradition for us.”

Sunday morning was the second day of the sale, and club secretary Phil Mancini volunteered to man the Christmas tree sale for a few hours.

“Did you find one yet?” he asked a couple who had been perusing the trees on display.

“Well, yes,” Tom Dobbins said.

“But we just need to decide which is the perfect one,” his wife, Fran Dobbins, added.

Tom Dobbins, a former member of the Rotary Club of Scarborough, said he and his wife always buy their Christmas tree from the club’s sale.

“They give back to the community and they get good trees,” he said.

The trees were cut just before delivery from a tree farm in Bangor and range in sizes. Trees under 6 feet tall are priced at $30, trees 6 to 8 feet tall are $35 and those over 8 feet are $40. Mancini said there are a few trees for sale that are at least 10 feet tall.

“We don’t want to overprice (the trees). We want to sell trees,” he said, adding that the proceeds from the Christmas tree sale benefit programs within the community.

Murphy said the club will use the money to fund scholarships for Scarborough High School seniors as well as provide the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, which send high-school students to a three-day camp during the summer to foster leadership skills and traits. Last year the tree sale raised $6,000, Murphy said. The club hopes to raise at least that much with this year’s sales.

Other area chapters of Rotary International use Christmas tree sales as a fundraiser for their local programs as well. Mancini said it has become a popular tradition.

“It’s a little like Americana here,” he said.

After Tom and Fran Dobbins drove off with their tree, Mancini cut the mesh off another tree to fill the gap their selection left. With a little help from Mancini, the tree’s branches dropped back into their original shape. He said setting up the trees is like “bringing them to life” and it makes the tree more appealing to customers.

“We had a Charlie Brown-like Christmas tree. That was the first one that sold,” he said.

Tree sales were slow over the weekend, something Mancini said was expected. He anticipates next weekend to be the busiest time for sales, as it has been in years past.

In previous years, the club has sold out of Christmas trees about 10 days before Christmas. On occasion, there have been a few trees remaining that the club donates to area families in need, Mancini said.

Less than half an hour after the Dobbins loaded up their “perfect tree” and headed home, the couple returned with the tree still in the bed of the pickup truck.

“It’s too big,” Tom Dobbins said, referring to the width of the tree. “You take returns don’t you?”

Laughing with the couple, Mancini gladly let them exchange the tree for the other, smaller tree Fran Dobbins had been eyeing. What may sound like an unusual request is not, he said: Some families have returned for smaller trees in the past. And in true Christmas spirit, the club has never denied an exchange to people in pursuit of the perfect tree.

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

[email protected]