Evergreen Park man puts his spin on Christmas
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org December 21, 2012 4:36PM
Tom Ingersoll, of Evergreen Park, has bought the rights to manufacture the Heirloom Rotating Christmas Tree Stand. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 24, 2013 6:06AM
As a child, Tom Ingersoll used to marvel at the magically spinning Christmas tree in his family’s home.
It was all the better to see each and every ornament, and marvel at the way they caught the reflection of the twinkling lights.
Fifty years later, the Evergreen Park resident finds himself making the rotating tree stands through his company, Vintage Christmas & Holidays, LLC.
It’s a bit of Americana, right up there with aluminum trees lit up by tricolored spotlights, and those illuminated Nativity scenes for the front yard.
“My husband had grown up with one of these. It’s a very integral part of his family’s Christmas, and it is pretty cool,” Tom’s wife, Mary Sue Ingersoll, said of the rotating tree stand.
Tom, who works on lighting and sound for theater productions in Chicago, currently with “The Book of Mormon,” has made tree stands his second career.
“To me, it was always one of the greatest parts of the Christmas holiday season, setting up the tree. The fact that it rotated, to me as a young kid, was amazing to see,” said Ingersoll, 55.
His father, Emmett Ingersoll, bought the stand in the 1950s. He died in a plane crash in 1959, so the rotating tree stand “had real sentimental value to our family,” Tom Ingersoll said.
Now he’s hoping others share his sentiment.
“You’re always looking for a connection to the parents, especially when one dies that young. It was always part of the holidays for us, and we still have that tree stand now. It’s probably almost 60 years old and it still works,” Ingersoll said.
Spincraft, based in New Berlin, Wis., made the tree stands until 1972, he said.
“About 10 years ago, Mary Sue and the kids surprised me with a new stand for Christmas. I talked to the guy who was manufacturing the stands. He got the blueprints from Spincraft. Then two years ago, I got an email that he was getting out of the business. I bought it to keep it going. I completely believe in the product,” Ingersoll said.
“A Christmas tree is the centerpiece of any celebration. Nearly everybody puts one up. This makes the tree come alive,” he said.
The tree stands, which he makes at a workshop, are not cheap at $399.
“I have to admit it’s kind of pricey. But every part of this is quality. The majority of parts are American-made, and they’re assembled here in Chicago,” he said.
Other companies make rotating tree stands that cost less — they can be found online for as cheap as $30 — but you get what you pay for.
Back in the 1950s, Ingersoll’s dad paid $150 for a rotating stand. Expensive? Yes. But it still works.
Some memories are worth paying extra for, said Patricia Olsiewicz, a former resident of Chicago’s Beverly community who now lives in Gobles, Mich.
“It’s pretty. And it’s nice to see all your ornaments,” Olsiewicz said. “We spend so much on ornaments — the collection is so dear to your heart — and then you hide some on the back side of the tree. Every newlywed couple should get one of these to show off their Christmas ornaments.”
The tree stand has a musical feature. It plays “Silent Night” and “Jingle Bells.”
“We have a daughter, Elizabeth, with special needs,” Olsiewicz said. “She’s in the autistic spectrum. She finds the tree comforting. Music relaxes people with autism, so we play those songs over and over again. This tree rotates in my house for 10 hours a day. Elizabeth likes it.”
Her family will continue their own tradition Monday when they visit a tree farm in Michigan. They’ll bring home a tree and replace the artificial one in the stand with the real one.
“So we’ll have the fresh tree smell on Christmas Eve when we decorate our rotating tree,” Olsiewicz said. “It makes your tree magical.”