Tree seller rooted in holiday tradition
Updated: December 18, 2012 3:18PM
So what’s it going to be? A fresh tree or artificial one? Ask Santos Perez and crew at the corner of Hibbard Road and Winnetka Avenue in Northfield. Since 1927, Perez Gardens has been a holiday garden spot, Traditional white light bulbs showcase Canadian trees beckoning for holiday homes. Perez, of Wheeling, has worked here since he 16, taking over the business last spring. He and his wife, Juana, have two children, Jose, 14, a London Middle School eighth-grader and Yadira, 7, a Field School second-grader.
Q. How do you pick a real Christmas tree?
A. This is a Fraser (holding up a tree branch), and you can see how many needles I get in my hand. You see how fresh it is? You pull the branch and check how many needles I have in my hand. You see none, or almost none. It means the tree is very fresh.
Q. Where does Perez Gardens get its trees?
A. You know, we always get the best trees from Canada. We used to have up to 10 species of trees and we came down to only two. The Balsam and the Fraser. The Balsam smells fresher and has the most fragrance. The Fraser holds the needles the best.
Q. What’s your tree of choice?
A. My favorite is Fraser Fir.
Q. Your father was Eulogio Perez from Fresnillo Zacatecas in central Mexico?
A. My dad used to work here. He used to bring me here. When I was 16, I started working here. We worked together for 19 years until he retired. The people we serve are really nice people. My co-workers, and all of my family are working with me right now, my son, my nephews, my brother … you know, everybody is here and we are having a lot of fun.
Q. Do you ever sing the carol “O Tannenbaum” while working?
A. No. (Minutes later, Perez’s family and co-workers sang “Feliz Navidad”).
Q. So are you reindeer-sitting two of Santa’s drivers who didn’t fly in from the North Pole?
A. We’ve got some beautiful reindeer which came from Kenosha, Wis.
Q. Are their names Donner or Blitzen? Rudolph?
A. I don’t know their names (the two are family friendly behind wire fencing but skittish of long camera lenses).
Q. Are you having a Tree-Men-Dous holiday?
A. (Smiles broadly) Yah, so far, we are having a lot of fun.
Perez Gardens is located at 62 Hibbard Road in Northfield. Handmade, almost life-size evergreen deer are for sale, plus poinsettias and more in the greenhouse. For hours and more information, call 847-446-5525.