At tree farm, emphasis on tradition

Horse-drawn carriage? Choosing your own tree? Clyde ’n Dale’s sticks to tried-and-true

rboone@theolympian.comDecember 16, 2013 

Several people visited Clyde ’n Dale’s Holiday Trees and Gifts on Sunday, saying it was a family tradition to pick out a tree and cut it down for the holidays.

Picking out a tree is just one of several activities available at the 10-acre tree farm, owned by Mark and Carol Downing, in the Delphi Road area of Thurston County. The business also offers horse-drawn covered trolley rides to the tree of your choice.

The tree farm opened the day after Thanksgiving and is open again this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the final weekend before Christmas.

Santa Claus will make an appearance from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

The business gets its name from the Clydesdale horses which used to pull the covered trolley. The trolley is now pulled by Dutch and Bob, two Percheron horses, which are similar to Clydesdales. Mark Downing, originally from Ohio, bought the property in the 1980s and launched the farm in 1999.

For some, the Downing farm is the place to go for a tree.

George Milholland of Olympia said he has been coming to the farm with his family for at least 10 years. He passed the tradition on to his family because cutting down your own Christmas tree was the way he had done it as a child.

Aileen Pratt of Lacey is another longtime visitor to the farm She likes the family-friendly environment, where her children are allowed to pet the horses. One of her daughters always rides up front in the trolley with Mark Downing, who operates it.

Sunday, Pratt was with her three daughters and an exchange student from Japan.

Longtime Downing family friends Larry and Ann Payne of Olympia also got a tree. Larry went to high school with Mark Downing in Circleville, Ohio, about 30 minutes south of Columbus.

Downing, a labor mediator for the state, said he got the farm bug in Circleville. Although he lived in town, he always admired the rural nature of the area, including its corn and soybean farms. He eventually came west, stopping in Boise before coming to Olympia.

Clyde ’n Dale’s Holiday Trees and Gifts is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The farm is at 10712 Tracie Ct. SW, Olympia.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403

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