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Real beating fake when it comes to trees
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From left, Joe Morgenstern and his son, Randy Morgenstern, of Morning Star Tree Farm at Main and Alameda streets in Manteca haul off a Christmas tree Wednesday purchased by a customer. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
Sonia Munoz was driving home from work the other day when she took notice of the Christmas tree lot at Main and Alameda streets in Manteca.

The medical clerk and single mother of three – her children are ages 12, 9, and 3 – thought what better way to celebrate the holidays than with a freshly cut Oregon tree.

“I know my kids will be excited when they see the tree I got them,” said Munoz, who recruited her brother, Junior, who brought his truck, to deliver home the custom-flocked tree.

In the past, she had artificial trees. But nothing could quite beat the fresh fragrance of a Noble, Grand or Douglas fir sold at the various Christmas tree lots in the area.

For the first time in awhile, consumers are looking for “real” Christmas trees. Throughout the U.S., the sales for both grown and manufactured trees, in general, can total $2 billion annually, but hardly lucrative to owners. Industry association experts anticipate real tree sales will be up this year as people turn to more traditional holiday touches.

Last year there were 28.2 million real trees sold in the United States with 11.7 million artifical trees being purchased.

Joe Morgenstern of the family-owned and operated Morning Star Tree Farms located on property once occupied by a Beacon service station can attest to that.

“You might not get rich but you do make a lot of friends,” he said on Wednesday evening.

His family has been in the Christmas tree business for 25 years. The seasonal operation originated in Livermore / Dublin before relocating to Tracy.

Randy Morgenstern, Joe’s son, has worked at Manteca Ford for the past 10 years and took notice of the nearby empty lot.

After a one-year hiatus, Morning Star – it’s the German definition of “Morgenstern,” according to Joe Morgenstern – was back in business.

Since opening on Thanksgiving Day, Morning Star has sold an estimated 500 trees, according to Randy Morgenstern.

The older Morgenstern believes there’s a reason why consumers are opting for real trees.

“I think people are trying to get back to the spirit of old Christmas,” he said.

Sonia Munoz, for one, was thrilled with her purchase. As a sign of appreciation, she promised to return with baked goodies for the tree lot owners.

No tree will go to waste. Leftover Christmas trees are often sold, recycled, and turned into mulch after the holidays.

At tree farms from throughout North America, about 41 million seedlings reportedly will be planted to replace the harvested ones.

It’s part of the ongoing process.