Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Christmas Tree Lot Inspires Holiday Stories

The Wilshire Rotary’s Christmas tree lot on Larchmont Blvd. is inspiring generosity and making holiday memories.

There’s nothing like a field full of Christmas trees to inspire the holiday spirit. Staff at the Wilshire Rotary’s Christmas tree lot shared two stories with us that we thought we’d share with you to as we count down to Christmas this Friday. The first story is one of generosity; the second is sweet and romantic.

Earlier this week, as a customer was paying for a tree, they asked if the Rotary ever needs meals for the workers on the lot. Yes, as it turns out, explained Diane Aldahl, the manager of the lot, part of working at the lot means you get fed, because the job is very labor intensive – cutting trees, putting them on stands, delivering trees, or helping people tie them onto their cars, etc. All the meals are provided by members of the Wilshire Rotary, who either make them or purchase them from local restaurants.  (As we have reported in the past, the Christmas tree lot does a lot more than sell trees. Proceeds from the tree lot sales go entirely to support local Rotary’s charity projects and many of the workers are formally incarcerated individuals who have worked at the lot since it inception in 2007, providing regular seasonal work starting with the pumpkin patch in October.)

That spirit of generosity is contagious among the staff and volunteers, a number that also includes, along with Rotary members, high schoolers doing community service. Shortly after the customer left, they retuned with individually plated meals for all the workers on the lot.  It turned out that customer Kwanklao Disbanchong, who goes by Kwan, is the owner of Ruam Mitr, a Thai restaurant on Melrose near La Brea. Staff at the lot were thrilled and thankful for Kwan’s generous gesture.

When we heard the story, we stopped by the restaurant on the weekend to meet Kwan. Like many restaurants, this one is trying to survive on take-out orders. Kwan told us they are open from every day from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., trying to keep the staff employed.  The name Ruam Mitr means “gathering of friends” in Thai. We certainly hope we can gather there with friends sometimes soon.

The second of our tree lot stories could be a scene right out of a holiday romantic comedy. A young couple came to the lot shopping for a tree. After the finding just the right tree, the gentleman asked Diane, who was helping them check out, if she would take a photo of the couple with their tree. Naturally, Diane was happy to take the photo. But she noticed the camera was set on video, and asked the customer if he wanted a video or a photo. He replied, “Whatever.  A video is just fine.” Then, as she started to shoot, the man got down on his knees, took a small red box from his pocket, and proposed to his girlfriend. She accepted and the entire lot erupted with cheers, said Diane, who captured the whole scene on video.

Of course, the future groom had planned it all along! Diane and the lot crew were part of making this memorable scene for this young couple, who can now boast that they got engaged at the Christmas tree lot on Larchmont! We don’t have a photo of the happy occasion,  but we’d love to run one if the couple is willing share it with us.

The lot is still open, selling trees and making memories until Christmas day when they close up until next year!

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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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