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California dreamin': Deal falls through for Fargoan

Take it or leave it. California decided to leave the leaves in Fargo. The 24-year-old owner of a Fargo lawn-care business tried to earn a trip to San Diego with a load of Fargo leaves. But Eric Martinson of Cutting Edge Lawn Care had to change hi...

Take it or leave it.

California decided to leave the leaves in Fargo.

The 24-year-old owner of a Fargo lawn-care business tried to earn a trip to San Diego with a load of Fargo leaves.

But Eric Martinson of Cutting Edge Lawn Care had to change his plans Monday when he learned about California's restrictions on importing leaves.

Martinson had an arrangement to collect 186 bags of leaves and haul them to Sea World in San Diego by Sept. 12. The theme park planned to create a large leaf pit for kids this fall.

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In return, Sea World would pay for Martinson and one other employee to deliver the leaves in a truck and then fly them back.

The lifelong Fargo resident discovered the opportunity through a friend he met during an internship at Disney World.

Martinson's roommate during his stay in Orlando, Fla., in the fall of 2000 was Joe Whitcher, who now works for Oak Island Entertainment and Productions. The Tampa, Fla., company produces special events, including building haunted houses for Busch Gardens, Martinson said.

Whitcher contacted Martinson for help finding enough fallen leaves by the mid-September deadline.

"They thought the further north they'd go, the better chance of pulling it off," he said.

Martinson, along with roommates and co-workers Jeff Reddig and Byron Snider, spent all weekend raking leaves near north Fargo's Pepsi Soccer Complex.

A half-mile-long row of trees east of the complex has already lost a lot of leaves, possibly enough to fill the order.

But as the three were working Monday, Martinson's cell phone rang and the deal was called off.

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Apparently California's laws would require the leaves to be sprayed before they could enter the state, Martinson said. But the chemical would be toxic and kids wouldn't be able to play in the leaves as planned.

Although they had worked about 10 hours and filled 50 35-gallon bags, Martinson and his crew were still in good spirits as they emptied each bag.

They just hope they can get the same deal with Sea World in San Antonio next year.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590

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