By Barb Oates
“Extreme” anything is a good way to capture people’s attention, and TLC’s Extreme Christmas Trees lives up to its name by profiling the insanity involved in some of the biggest, most expensive and most dangerous undertakings when it comes to Christmas trees.
If you Google “tallest Christmas tree in the world,” you’ll get over a million reports back that stake claim to some variation of the largest, biggest or best tree from Mexico to Dubai. According to TLC producers, Rio de Janeiro holds the record for the tallest tree on water (also known as the largest floating Christmas tree) — a 28-story monstrosity that’s decorated with close to 3 million lights. It’s been said that the tree is so bright it can be seen from the moon. Yep, that’s extreme! You’ll get lots of fun facts like that throughout the special.
Cameras also take viewers behind the scenes at the Biltmore mansion in Asheville, N.C., where the tree and all its trimmings reflect the opulent lifestyle of the Vanderbilt family (pictured). It takes a team of precise engineers to erect and secure the 1,500-pound tree inside the mansion where staff adorn it with supersized decorations, including ornaments the size of basketballs. The 32-foot tree reigns as the largest Christmas tree inside a private home.
Then it’s off to Rockland, Maine, where fisherman continue a longstanding tradition, constructing a 35-foot tree made out of lobster traps and held together by 3,000-plus zip ties. The tree is decorated with lights and over 150 personalized buoys from the lobstermen in the community.
Mona Shores High School in Muskegon, Mich., also makes the cut with their Singing Christmas Tree led by choir director Shawn Lawton, who confesses, “It’s always a challenge keeping the kids up in the tree.” Extreme indeed, as over 300 choir students pack into an extremely hot and tight 67-foot-high tree decorated with over 20,000 lights.
There’s some tense moments as cameras take you to Brunswick, Ga., to oversee the tree trimming at the historic Brunswick Manor, a local bed and breakfast, where co-owner Stacy Bass’ obsession with Christopher Radko ornaments equates to a pricey tree valued at over $200,000. “Anytime I lose an ornament, it’s emotional,” Bass says of his collection of 2,000, which range in price from $50 to $4,000.
Other fun stories include Mike Elder, a former hot rod builder and now owner of Black Sheep Custom Cakes in Clinton, Mo., who created a Christmas tree cake for a children’s charity event using over 400 pounds of flour, 300 cups of butter, 1,200 eggs and 300 pounds of icing. Dan MacPhail from Kettle, Ky., designed and sold his custom Christmas tree made out of antlers for $25,000 to a Swedish art gallery. MacPhail shares that no animals were harmed in the making of his tree; he “only uses dropped antlers.” Then there’s a bit of an oddball, Greig Howe, from England, who still says he has “no idea” why he cut huge holes in his home to hang a 30-foot tree upside down through the various stories of his house.
Each of the trees and stories are truly over the top and make this an absolutely fun family holiday special.
Extreme Christmas Trees airs on TLC on Dec. 10 at 9pm ET/PT