Great American Wreath and Pine Cone Company hangs unique decor |

Great American Wreath and Pine Cone Company hangs unique decor

Dylan Silver
Dylan Silver / Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – As a child Zan Barker used to watch his mother twist evergreen branches into wreaths, adding lemon leaves and other tidbits to the holiday decorations. Today, the memory is a powerful one.

“She really brought the Christmas spirit into it,” he said. “I like to bring the antiquity and tradition.”

For the past two decades Barker, under the banner of his company the Great American Wreath and Pine Cone Company, has been creating traditional wreaths and garland for the holidays. His 10 or so employees hang the decorations on businesses who contract with him for the service.

“We started this because there were no decorations being put up on businesses on the scale we created,” Barker said.

From 7,000 pounds of evergreen harvested and brought down from the Pacific Northwest every year, the company makes hundreds of wreaths, some as big as 8 feet in diameter, and strings nearly a mile of garland. The creations adorn about 30 businesses from Embassy Suites to the Marriott, Lakeland Village to Shoreline Ski and Snowboard shop.

Barker has a larger vision for the town of South Lake Tahoe too. He’d like to see businesses and homes from Meyers to Zephyr Cove all decked out in holiday spirit.

“My goal is to get the town together and the community together so we can show some continuity,” he said.

The use of wreaths for a various traditions dates back to 6th century B.C. when ancient Greeks would crown victors in the Pythian games with wreaths made from laurel leaves. Greek myths tell of gods wearing the foliage crowns in honor of one fallen comrade or another. For Barker, the wreath has another meaning.

“I believe the wreaths have been a symbol of hospitality for hundreds of years,” he said.

This, along with their beauty, make them a fitting decoration for South Lake Tahoe, he said.

“I think when people come up to the Sierra and they’re surrounded by snow and trees, they expect to see something magical,” he said.

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