New Trier High School’s tree lot never stood a chance.
The circumstances of 2020 — desire to support the community, craving for holiday spirit, less seasonal travel — created a perfect storm of Christmas tree demand.
And so, after opening weekend, the lot was bare. Nary a wreath remained for the first time that Tri-Ship Club sponsor Scott Fricke, who’s been involved with Tri-Ship for 20 years, can remember.
“It was incredible,” Fricke said. “We went in not knowing if we’d even be able to have a sale, and we have never received more calls from the community.”
The Tri-Ship tree drive is an annual tradition that raises funds for the New Trier Scholarship Fund, specifically for scholarships for New Trier boys. Tri-Ship is one of the high school’s oldest clubs.
This year, Fricke and company got the OK from the district to run the tree lot with added safety protocols: masks, social distancing and credit cards payment (when possible)
The drive was supposed to run until Dec. 19, but after 300 trees sold in three days, it didn’t even make it into December, selling the final tree on Sunday, Nov. 29.
Most years, Fricke said, opening weekend is the slowest. Not this time.
“The community really wanted tos support us this year,” he said. “It supports us every year, but this was such a different type of year. The community wanted to help.”
Foreshadowing for the tree-drive rush came just a month earlier.
As part of its annual programming, Tri-Ship also hosts a food drive leading up to Thanksgiving, collecting funds to donate to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
More than $66,000 was raised this year.
“That’s at least double what we earned in prior years,” Fricke said, who gave credit to the Tri-Ship members for both promoting the food drive and working the tree drive.
“Within the last couple months, the guys have done a great job.”