Milford Christmas tree sale tradition will continue

MILFORD — Mark Bernard's decision last year to step away from selling Christmas trees left a void among Milford's tree shoppers.

The Christmas tree sales at the Sundae House on New Haven Avenue had become part of the annual holiday tradition for many families, to the extent that some regulars reached out to Bernard's family to see if they would be keeping the Christmas tradition going.

Instead, it is John Simone, who owns The Sundae House, that will continue the tradition. Starting on Nov. 26, trees will be on sale from Thursday through Sunday, 3 to 8 p.m. 

Although Simone is new to selling trees, he understands keeping a tradition going. When his own father died, Simone kept the ice cream shop open because he recognized that many in the community had made it part of their daily lives.

"So I just figured it's the same thing with the Christmas trees," he said. "Maybe I'm just doing justice for the people of Milford."

Bernard, a groundskeeper at Johnathan Law High School, began his final sales season in 2021 after selling Christmas trees in the parking lot of The Sundae House for three decades.

Now Simone is keeping two traditions going.

"At The Sundae House, we have been selling ice cream for nearly 60 years, and I don't want to break that tradition," said Simone. "Mark had been selling Christmas trees for nearly 30 years, and I didn't want to break that tradition either."

Like Bernard, Simone made the trip to Quebec, Canada, to a tree farm.

"I'm new at this, and I have no idea what I'm doing," he said. "Mark gave me an idea and how everything works, but I didn't realize most Christmas trees come out of Quebec, and I didn't realize there are 22 Christmas trees plantations in Quebec."

And so, earlier this year, Simone made the eight-hour trip to Quebec to meet the tree farmer.

"It was a very long drive," Simone said. "But it was important to me to meet the farm owner, and when we met, it was for my benefit because he wanted to show us the trees."

The truckload of trees from Canada will arrive on Friday, Nov. 25. Plans for this year's tree sale include live music, coffee and ice cream, and a visit from Santa. And shoppers may see numerous familiar faces, as Simone said people have been volunteering to help sell trees.

"One of my neighbors up the street said he was going to help me sell Christmas trees, and some of my other friends have also told me they would like to donate their time and come help sell trees," he said. "It has become less of a family business and more of a community business. It's amazing how many people want to help."