The following story is true.
It was a brisk night in early December in New York City, and Andy Delaney (my Dad) took his French Bulldog, Haggis, out for one last pee shortly before midnight. Haggis had his head down, smelling the various scents that the city’s busy streets had to offer when he waddled straight into a dark figure hunched down at the base of a Christmas tree stand on Broadway.
“Hey little buddy, how are you,” asked the figure.
Unbeknownst to Haggis, he’d just stumbled into a complete stranger from Revelstoke, where Delaney’s son (me) had just moved.
In New York City, from Thanksgiving onwards, Christmas tree stands pop up on street corners all over the city to give people somewhere to buy a real Christmas tree. Many of the trees come from Canada, and often the sellers do, too. Delaney, also being from Canada – and familiar with the Canadian tree-seller phenomena – asked the man if he was from Canada. The man, who will be referred to as Paul Pinecone for legal purposes, confirmed that he was.
“He said, ‘I live in Revelstoke,’ said Delaney.
After finding out that Pinecone was from Revelstoke, Delaney said a single thought went through his mind.
“Honestly, it’s that silly Disney song. It’s a Small World,” said Delaney with a chuckle.
When he moved to New York a few years ago, Delaney made a point to get to know the people in his area. Starting by saying hello to neighbours, waitresses, and baristas. Over time he’s become familiar with folks in his area.
“It’s just how I feel building a community happens,” said Delaney.
So, when Delaney’s dog, Haggis, bumped into Pinecone, Delaney introduced himself the same as he would to the other people in his community, but was surprised to hear where Pinecone was from, and curious about how he got there.
“It’s kind of like a weird quirky adventure, I would say, and the potential to make quite a bit of money,” said Pinecone.
This year was Pinecone’s first in The Big Apple selling Christmas trees. Charging up to $30 per foot, Pinecone said that he hopes to save his money for the winter back in Revelstoke.
“I was hoping just to pretty much make some money to ride me out for the winter so I could just snowboard,” said Pinecone.
He got to New York in mid-November ahead of the selling season, spending the first few days wandering around and getting to know the big city.
“It’s a lot different than Revelstoke,” said Pinecone with a laugh, but he said “there’s a lot of things to do.”
Once Thanksgiving passed, with his sightseeing concluded, Pinecone had to stay close to the stand for prospective buyers. But selling trees can be tricky business. First, he has to convince the buyers of the trees.
“I kind of got the sales pitch down,” joked Pinecone.
Besides the challenge of selling the trees, Pinecone also contends with the noise that comes from selling on the corner of one of the busiest streets in North America.
“We’re right on Broadway. So, there’s– the road is never quiet,” joked Pinecone, before adding that in Revelstoke he lives “right next to the train museum anyway, so I’m used to the noise.”
On top of the selling and the noise, Pinecone has also had the added hurdle of camping at the stand on the side of the road, which is one of the things he’s ready to leave behind.
“I’ve been literally sleeping on like some pallets on the street for over three weeks now. So, it’s getting a bit much,” said Pinecone.
Pinecone’s struggle, apart from the financial benefits, also adds to atmosphere of the city, according to Delaney.
Despite the movies and tv shows that depict snow-clad city streets in New York for Christmas, the truth is much greener. Over the past several years, the city doesn’t get snow very often, and it rarely stays. So, locals depend on a few staples to get them in the Christmas spirit, including lights in apartment windows, window displays on Fifth Ave., and tree stands scattered around the city.
“All you can smell are pine trees and the scent of pine needles everywhere. And, yeah, it really does add to the whole sort of visceral experience,” said Delaney.
After a cold few weeks selling, Pinecone will make a speedy trek back to Revelstoke to enjoy the fruits of his labour.
“I’m pretty much just looking forward to my own bed and snowboarding,” said Pinecone.