Gary Casella hovered over a 17-foot bundled Christmas tree one recent morning under a large white tent on the Burbank High School soccer field.
“This one’s going to the city of Burbank,” Casella, 74, said of the 19-year-old tree, one of the first he would deliver this season.
Casella’s 75-year-old Christmas tree business — founded in 1937 by his father, Paul Casella — has been operating in Burbank for nearly five decades.
“I told my dad before he passed I’d get to 75 years,” Casella said of the business.
The senior Casella ran a produce business out of Glendale before he started selling Christmas trees to supplement his income. Gary Casella and his brother, Don, took over the business in 1964.
Over the years, Gary Casella has contributed more than $300,000 to Burbank High School — his alma mater — in scholarships, athletic equipment and jobs, he said. This year, he’ll give back through a $5-per-tree rebate program for families in the Burbank Unified School District.