A Child's Christmas in Eastern Kentucky - Off-Ramp for December 7, 2013

Who flocks Christmas trees anymore? These guys, and it makes all the difference

John Rabe

A stack of flocking.

John Rabe

Cougar Mountain Christmas Trees' Bruce Morrison loads the Christmas tree flocking into the tank.

John Rabe

The flocking machine, the heart and soul of a Christmas tree flocking operation.

John Rabe

Is it Batman nemesis Bain? Or Cougar Mountain Christmas Trees' Sam Nassar.

John Rabe

Cougar Mountain Christmas Trees' Sam Nassar, done flocking the big tree, turns to the Charlie Brown-size fir.

John Rabe

Cougar Mountain Christmas Trees' Sam Nassar, lightly flocked himself after a session in the flocking tent.

John Rabe

Cougar Mountain Christmas Trees' Bruce Morrison and Devin Reyes, "The Kid," bag a flocked tree. The bag keeps the flocking on the tree as it rides on top of the car like Mitt Romney's dog.

After bagging, the Christmas tree goes to its happy home.

John Rabe

After bagging, the Christmas tree goes to its happy home.

John Rabe

For Cougar Mountain Christmas Trees, the reason for the season. This tag goes on every tree.


Until a few years ago, I thought flocked Christmas trees were strictly kitsch. I grew up in Northern Michigan, where we thought it was silly to bring snow — even ersatz snow — into the house. We spent enough time moving around the stuff outside.

But a couple years ago, something changed, and I suddenly wanted a flocked tree. Who knows, maybe I missed the snow.

So we got one, and it looked fabulous.

See, I told you.

There are probably hundreds of pop-up Christmas tree lots in Southern California, but few of them flock trees anymore. One of those is Cougar Mountain Christmas Trees in Eagle Rock (next to the Target), where Bruce Morrison works. He's been flocking for more than 20 years. "It's an art," he says. "Anybody can paint a wall, but to do the tree, you need a little bit of technique. Once you do a couple hundred of them, you get the hang of it."

First they wet the tree down with a water mister, so the flocking sticks. Then comes the flocking itself, a starchy powder that has to be sprayed on with finesse. For a natural look, more goes on the top of the tree and on the branches that hang out. Then, a quick mist with more water to seal the flocking and keep it from shedding too much when you get it home. You still need to water the tree, of course, but flocking not only looks pretty, it also adds a level of flame resistance to the tree.

Sam Nassar — with more than a decade in the business — donned the protective suit and Bane-like respirator for our video. "Every single tree looks different," he says. "So it's always an amazing experience to see what comes out of the flocker. And the look in our customers' eyes when they see it come out, ... it's something they've ever seen before. When you see the kids, their eyes light up. The mom and dad's eyes light up. It's awesome."

 


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