Friends continue tradition of selling Christmas trees in Sewickley
The little shelter at the corner of Chestnut and Thorn streets in Sewickley is the typical kind used by “Christmas tree guys,” said Bill Frissell and Ernie Kosack, as they huddled inside with some warm coffee and doughnuts, and the small heater in the corner struggled to pump out some heat.
Outside, dozens of Douglas and Fraser fir trees await their potential owners — although Kosack said they deliver a blue spruce to Pittsburgh Penguins owner Mario Lemieux of Sewickley almost every year.
Kosack, 81, of Sewickley wore a Santa hat, and his nose was red from the cold as he spoke last week about his 43 years helping his “buddy” Al Mendicino of Aleppo sell Christmas trees.
Kosack, a retired painter, said he has liked “being out in the public” and “likes dealing with the people” over the years.
“There was a little boy the other day who looked at me in my hat and said to his mom, ‘Lookie, Mommy, it's Santy Claus!' So, I went, ‘Ho, ho ho!'” he said with a chuckle.
Frissell, 65, of Coraopolis — who has helped for nine years — said he enjoys the excited children who run around and “have a ball.” He gives a candy cane to each one.
Mendicino, 79, a retired general contractor, said the stand started in a lot along Route 65 in Leetsdale, where the carwash is now, and originally was the idea of his late brother, Patrick, who was Kosack's best friend.
Kosack said they wanted to do something different and decided to sell Christmas trees.
Mendicino continued the “three-weeks-a-year” business when his brother died about 10 years ago, because, he said, “it gets in your blood after all these years.”
But this might be his last year.
When they first started, Mendicino said, he was barely 20, and he, his brother and Kosack used to sell about 500 trees. When the artificial ones became popular and the economy got bad, sales declined.
Almost 40 years ago, they moved from the Leetsdale lot to the bigger Sewickley lot that Mendicino owns and where he rents out a home.
They have about 150 trees delivered from a Sarver Christmas tree farm each year, and most of the time, they sell them all at a price of $40 to $80. They will deliver for an additional cost.
In the past they have hadvisits from former Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann and former Pittsburgh Pirates general manager David Littlefield.
Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Retiring official taking love of Leetsdale with her
- Serafini: Recipe for family holiday fun falls short
- Plan for former Sewickley Country Inn site approved
- Sewickley Valley Girl Scouts adapt to digital cookie sales
- Repairs made to Sewickley stream
- Lane: Welcoming guests? Make it easy
- Photos: Sewickley Valley celebrates holiday season