CORNVILLE — Bryant LaPlante treats every Christmas tree at his farm with care, and every customer as if he or she were family.

“We sell about 3,500 trees a year and we’ve been planting around 7,000 – pretty much 2-to-1,” LaPlante said.

LaPlante, 70, has been in the Christmas tree business 44 years at The Forest, on West Ridge Road, where he owns 20 acres and leases a total of 80 acres within a 3-mile radius.

LaPlante loves his customers, enjoys watching children get excited about Christmas.

He drove his 320 horse-powered, three-wheel, red 2017 Polaris Slingshot motorcycle in a holiday parade Friday night in Skowhegan and handed out 500 coloring books to children and brochures that explain how a tree farm operates. He calls the motorcycle “Santa’s Sleigh.”

LaPlante also gave the city of Waterville a 50-foot-tall balsam tree when he heard the old blue spruce tree in Castonguay Square had to be cut down because it was diseased. After he read a story about the tree’s demise in the newspaper, LaPlante, a former elementary school teacher in Waterville, called the city’s parks and recreation director, Matt Skehan, and told him he had a tree that would provide a quick fix for him.

“I said, ‘It’s not your answer for the future, but it will get you by now,’ ” LaPlante recalled telling Skehan. “It’s Christmas, you know. I didn’t hesitate at all to call him.”

LaPlante said he hasn’t yet seen the tree all lit up next to Waterville City Hall, but he plans to drive his big motorcycle to Waterville to see it.

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