Scheetz Tree Farm remembers a milestone

| November 29, 2016
This 25-foot Blue Spruce was donated to the White House in 1996 by Scheetz Tree Farm, located on State Route 541 in Coshocton.

This 25-foot Blue Spruce was donated to the White House in 1996 by Scheetz Tree Farm, located on State Route 541 in Coshocton.

COSHOCTON – When Kenny and Joan Sheetz entered one of their Christmas trees into the OCTA display and contest at the Ohio State Fair, they never imagined it would lead them to Washington D.C. and the White House.

“It was bewildering is what it was,” said Joan.

The couple, who have owned Scheetz Tree Farm since 1962, entered one of their home-grown Christmas trees in the Ohio State Fair 20 years ago in 1996 and came away as grand champion, which made them eligible to enter the national competition in Kansas City, MO.

“It was the first time we had ever gone to nationals for any reason,” said Joan. “Some people who don’t show go just to go. We had a six-foot tree and Kenny wrapped it in burlap. We took it to nationals in the back of a pick-up truck. The national competition is in August so it was hot and we had to keep spraying it with water just to keep it moist.”

That tree was named the national grand champion Christmas tree, which automatically made them eligible to donate a tree to the White House.

“We had the responsibility of getting that huge tree cut down without breaking it,” said Joan.

Philip Wagner provided a crane to secure the 25-foot Blue Spruce while it was being cut down. The tree made its grand entrance onto the White House lawn in a 28-foot trailer hauled by a pick-up truck.

“We had quite a time getting that outfit in that space,” said Kenny. “Of course, there was also Secret Service police everywhere, and it had to stay there because there was nowhere else in the city to park it.”

The Scheetz family was received by former First Lady Hillary Clinton and was able to tour the White House.

“One of the things I remember was, of course, presenting the tree was neat and meeting the Clintons,” said Jane Hartsock, daughter of Kenny and Joan. “Touring the White House meant a lot to me immensely and it’s something that I cherish because it’s something you don’t get to do nowadays.”

Hartsock remembers visiting the Oval Office and sitting at the diplomatic table.

“I remember just the beauty of everything,” said Hartsock. “Being a small-town girl, that was a big deal. The diplomatic room is where we had the reception after the presentation of the tree. I remember the murals in the room were taken off the walls at the first White House in Philadelphia and showed the entire history of the United States.”

During the presentation of the tree, President Clinton was receiving the Thanksgiving turkey at that time, which also came from Ohio. Joanna, 10 years old at the time, and Rebecca, eight years old, are the granddaughters of Kenny and Joan, and were able to see the turkey presentation.

“We were at the turkey presentation with Bill,” said Joanna. “We shook hands with Bill and were able to go right up to the turkey. I remember his name was Carl.”

The family stayed at The Jefferson Hotel, located three blocks from the White House.

“The hotel staff was so excited to have kids staying there that they brought us up a tray of hot chocolate,” said Joanna.

The family has other memories of the trip which include playing with Socks, the White House cat, doing cartwheels in the diplomatic room, and visiting the china room where past first ladies china patterns were displayed. First Lady Hillary Clinton also did individual pictures with each family member.

“I thought she was very gracious, down to earth, and easy to talk to,” said Jane.

Scheetz Tree Farm is a locally-owned business located on State Route 541 in Coshocton. They farm 24 acres of Christmas trees and it is owned by Kenny and Joan Scheetz but mostly run now by daughter Jane, son-in-law, Larry, and granddaughters Joanna and Rebecca.

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Category: Business

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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