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Real or Fake? A holiday odyssey | Under Rocks podcast

Mike Lundgren

Under Rocks wraps up another year of adventures by bundling up and heading into the woods to find the perfect pine. Actually, it’s more of a farm than woods, as these rookies learn what’s so great about a real Christmas tree. Sinnissippi Farm and Forest co-owner Doug Conroy schools them on the real vs. fake debate. The Clauses even weigh in -- and it’s M-A-G-I-C.

Spencer Tritt

About 500 years ago, someone in Europe decided that chopping down a pine tree and dragging it into their house would be a nice way to celebrate Christmas. The tradition has grown and evolved. Nowadays, very few people harvest their trees from the wild: they’re likely to come from one of about 15-thousand U-S tree farms…or they’re plastic.

In our latest episode of WNIJ’s Under Rocks podcast, our team ventured out to one of the many Christmas tree farms here in northern Illinois: Sinnissippi Farm and Forest in Oregon, IL
They sought out Doug Conroy, who co-owns the historic farm with his brother John, to help them answer the age-old question: real or fake? Real, of course for the Conroys, who have owned the tree farm for the past fifteen years. But the area's roots go back more than a century, when it was part of Illinois Gov. Frank Lowden’s evergreen empire.

Listener Susan Kleiman offered up some great advice for decorating a tree. Here’s her order of operations:

1) Make sure tree is secure and won't fall over. If a live tree, you may have to trim the base and mess around with how it fits and gets clamped into its special base.

2) Make sure your light string is working and then put the light string on next, I start at the top and walk around the tree to arrange and space the lights so that the entire strings are used.

3) Then add your ornaments.

She also shared the Nature Conservancy’s take on our big question, “real or fake?” Thanks, Susan!

The University of Illinois Cooperative Extension also shares facts, tips, and tricks about Christmas trees here.

The Clauses with their friends Spencer Tritt and Mike Lundgren.
Dan Libman
The Clauses with their friends Spencer Tritt and Mike Lundgren.

Your Under Rocks team this episode is Dan Libman, Susan Stephens, Spencer Tritt, and Mike Lundgren. Send an email to rocks@niu.edu with your thoughts about this Christmas trees, ornaments, or other exciting people, places, and ideas you'd like us to tackle in the new year. New episodes will drop every third Thursday.

Under Rocks is produced at Northern Illinois University by WNIJ.

The interrogation of the Clauses
Mike Lundgren
The interrogation of the Clauses

Dan Libman is an author, teacher, correspondent, and adventurous host of the WNIJ podcast Under Rocks.
Susan is an award-winning reporter/writer at her favorite radio station. She's also WNIJ's Perspectives editor, Under Rocks contributor, and local host of All Things Considered.
Spencer's creativity shows up in a variety of spaces on-air and online for WNIJ. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a degree in Communications and Digital Media Production. Spencer's interest in multimedia comes from a mix of his love for arts and music with an interest in technology.