- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 21, 2016

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - “What do you think, Anna?” John Faicco asked his 1-year-old daughter as they searched for the perfect Christmas tree.

When she looked over at her dad with her big blue eyes, he took that as a yes.

He started chopping the 20-foot-tall spruce on Jackson Hole Police Chief Todd Smith’s property near Bondurant.

A crowd of Smith’s family, friends and fellow officers looked on, cheering and heckling as Faicco swung an ax repeatedly at the large conifer. With each swing snow shook off the tree until it came crashing down, reported the Jackson Hole News and Guide (https://bit.ly/2hQFSPx).

“We had a Charlie Brown tree last year,” said John’s wife, Katie Faicco. The new tree will definitely be an upgrade.



It’s the time of year when you want to be around friends and family for the holidays, Smith said. And what better way to do so than to cut down a Christmas tree. He gathered a group to celebrate the holidays at his house in Hoback Ranches southwest of Bondurant, which is only accessible by snow machine. It’s a 10-minute snow machine ride from the plowed parking area 5 miles off Highway 191.

“You want to spread some cheer and have a good time and let people have the opportunity to get a tree and have a good memory,” he said.

People trudged through knee-deep snow to find their trees and chose from a cluster of conifers that was just a little too close to Smith’s house on the hillside, creating a potential summer fire hazard.

The trees need to be felled to create a defensible space around the building in case of wildfire. Instead of doing it all in the summer, Smith had another idea.

“I would rather these trees go to somebody and serve a purpose than just get cut down in the summer,” he said.

The snow steadily fell and families posed together with their freshly cut trees.

“It’s almost the ideal weather,” Smith said.

People warmed up inside with cups of hot chocolate and bowls of chili. Others gathered outside to catch up and watch the kids play on snowmobiles.

Heidi Schultz and her husband, Roger, usually get a tree with their children, but they’re all off at college this year. They decided to spend the time with friends instead.

“You know it when you see it,” Schultz said of finding her perfect Christmas tree.

Friends and family had cut down about six trees behind Smith’s house, and there were more people showing up to his remote house in the forest.

The only person who didn’t cut down a tree was Smith. He laughed, pointing to a 6-inch-tall sprig festively decorated with lights on a barrel outside.

“It’s our Charlie Brown tree,” he said.

He’s heard horror stories about houses burning down and doesn’t want to take the chance this year, especially because there is no way for the fire department to get to his house.

“Just because our house is so remote we would rather just look out and enjoy the trees that are here,” he said. “Living up here you have to live smart.”

But that didn’t stop him from trying to fill up everyone else’s homes with trees.

“Putting a smile on somebody’s face while getting a Christmas tree,” Smith said, “that’s the best part.”

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Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, https://www.jhnewsandguide.com

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