(WXYZ) — The Detroit holiday tree is a 65-foot Norway spruce, the biggest tree ever at Campus Martius. It's from Dutchman Tree Farms in Manton, north of Cadillac.
WATCH WXYZ-TV'S LIGHT UP THE SEASON SPECIAL NOV. 19 AT 7 P.M.
Five generations of Vanderweides have planted Christmas trees at Dutchman Tree Farms. Their trees have been part of holiday celebrations from Disneyworld to Detroit.
"Truly the most memorable is that in 1984, my wife and I and our family presented the tree to President Reagan and spent a whole week in Washington, D.C., as a guest of the White House, and we had a fantastic time. And and we were treated like royalty," said Steve Vanderweide, founder of Dutchman Tree Farms.
While they grow all sizes, Steve said he has to hunt for very tall ones like the one at Campus Martius.
"It's not very exciting," he joked. "You're driving down the road and then you see this big tree up while you're in your pickup, and then you're just taking your eyes off what you should be watching, and then you come back and you walk out there and you look at it, then you find out who owns that property. So it's not really that exciting, but it gets addictive."
This year’s tree was found hidden away on a nearby property. It takes a little magic to get the tree from an up-north property to Detroit.
"A tree that's that tall is old, and when you get old, you get whether you're a tree or a person, you become fragile in many areas ... when that tree has to be condensed into an eight foot wide bundle to go down the road ... so when you unveil that tree, those limbs, not all of them come back to how they looked like ... they have a crew there that does a great job at repairing those minor imperfections of the tree," he said.
He adds, "I had the greatest job in the world ... it's so good because it is the centerpiece of so many people throughout the United States that begins their holiday season ... you know, it's a fun time, like to be part of it."
Steve said they've seen a lot of success recently with their choose-&-cut program where customers can wander through the farm and select their very own Christmas tree.
"My daughter really had a real heart for that, and so she has been doing it for, I would say ten years now, and so but it has grown, and last year was just, I don't know, because of COVID or whatever, but people really came out. We are probably, oh, we probably gained 40 percent more last year, it was just a busy season," he said.
Steve said it's fun to see his children share in his passion for Christmas trees.
"What can I say, you love your kids and when they really take hold of something that you loved, I think you have great pride in it," he said.
To learn more about Dutchman Tree Farms, click here.