DENISON, TX - Hay rides, hot cocoa and Christmas trees are what makes the holidays bright. And now all of those things can also make for a unique educational experience at the Elves Christmas Tree Farm in Denison.
In an era of fake Christmas trees, you still can't beat the real thing.
"You know there's a difference from going to the store and picking your tree off an aisle as opposed to going on a hay ride with your family and making it a tradition to come out pick your tree out and have that “Clark Griswold moment” where you find the perfect tree and you see the star above it,” said Marshal Cathey, who owns Elves Christmas Tree Farm with his wife Sharlote.
But the Cathey's Christmas tree farm is also a special place for students like the Autistic Life Skills class from B. McDaniel Middle School in Denison.
"They get to experience a lot of things that other kids take for granted completely,” said their teacher, Kimberly Martin.
The beautiful trees aren't just for decorating; the Catheys also use their farm to teach kids from all across Texoma.
"We try to accommodate whatever groups come out so the life skills they're a special group and they have a lot of fun the tractor rides, seeing the animals and stuff is just real exciting for them,” said Cathey.
The trees aren't the only site to see on a field trip, there's a puppet show, outdoor maze, and always a big hit, farm animals. And Martin thinks that makes for a great learning environment.
"So much more of teaching and learning is more than four walls and a desk,” said Martin.
But Cathey said the biggest hit for the roughly 20 or more schools that visit his farm is the hay ride.
And for Martin and her class, the field trip was more than just a fun day out of the classroom.
"This not only helps them communication wise, but pulls them into our world,” said Martin.
The Catheys plant the trees, trim them and keep them healthy year-round. And after a couple of years they’re ready to be cut down and decorated for the holidays. They also have a pumpkin patch open for the month of October that school children can take similar trips to.