This Alaska family travels to New York City every year to sell Christmas trees

Tom and Michele Gilmartin have pushed forwards and backwards between Alaska and New York Metropolis dozens of occasions to promote Christmas timber on a Manhattan sidewalk.

On Ninth Avenue at twenty second Road in Chelsea, they park their pink-and-inexperienced camper — with Alaska license plates and topped with an enormous inflatable Santa Claus — for his or her seasonal keep. The Gilmartins do not deliver the timber themselves: Each night time round midnight, the individual on shift hauls the supply of recent timber to the sidewalk in entrance of a Ceremony Help and will get them able to promote.

For 14 years, the Nikiski couple would drive down the Alaska Freeway every November, then via the remainder of Canada or the U.S. on totally different routes, and head again north in January.

That is their twenty first yr touring to New York for the household winter enterprise, together with their teenage son, Rory. Now, although, they journey by aircraft.

So what gave them the thought within the first place?

“There was nothing to do in Alaska in December,” stated Tom Gilmartin, and he was on the lookout for a winter job. He and his spouse each work within the business fishing business.

His sister had labored for years promoting Christmas timber in Greenwich Village, and he heard concerning the job alternative by way of her. Being from Alaska might have made them look like fairly engaging candidates.

Tom Gilmartin arms a small Christmas tree to Lisa Horner, of Chelsea, on the Gilmartin’s Christmas tree stand on the nook of West twenty second Road and ninth Avenue in New York Metropolis. (Taylor Balkom /

“They will not rent anyone to run a Christmas tree stand until they’re from a spot with a chilly local weather,” Tom stated. “The typical New Yorker will not do that. They will not final. They only go off and do different issues. To do that, you must haven’t any connections on this metropolis and no place to go.”

The primary time Tom and Michele made the drive, in 1996, “individuals have been taking bets” on whether or not their beater truck would make it to the East Coast, Michele stated.

“The gasoline pump was out within the truck, however it technically didn’t break down,” she stated.

After the primary yr promoting timber, Tom recollects, he thought they’d by no means do the job once more.

“It is more durable than business fishing,” he stated. “You are camped out on the streets of New York. All it’s a must to use is the shop you are in entrance of, use their rest room. Consuming takeout on a regular basis. You miss Thanksgiving, you miss Christmas at house. The primary yr, stated we might by no means come again.”

Reluctantly, they returned for…

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