IBEW Holiday Lights Brighten Cities, Towns
December 23, 2013
Float produced by members and relatives of Jamestown, N.Y., Local 106 draws praise along the route of the city’s annual Christmas parade.
In the surge of goodwill that accompanies the holiday season, IBEW locals across the U.S. apply their skills to light displays and community celebrations, winning praise in the media and respect from hundreds of thousands of neighbors for whom a visit to the displays is often a yearly custom.
Jamestown Local 106 is one of dozens of organizations listed in the Post-Journal that participated in the city’s annual Christmas parade and holiday celebration. “We get a great response to our float,” says Business Manager Dave Wilkinson. Signatory contractor Ahlstrom-Schaeffer Electric donates a flatbed truck. A member’s father donates a trailer. Another member’s spouse traces a projected Christmas scene on veneer and hand paints it onto the float. Twenty-five to thirty members and families show up and give out candy along the parade route, gathering afterward at the local union hall. The parade is a “huge local event,” says Wilkinson, taking two hours, followed by fireworks. “As our float passes the reviewing stand, the marshal announces who we are and who we represent,” he adds. The only other local labor organization participating is Johnstown, Pa., IBEW Local 459. Members of that local, employed by Jamestown’s Board of Public Utilities, follow the parade route in a bucket truck donated by their employer.
Crown Point, Ind.
Thousands of Northwest Indiana residents attended the city’s annual Holiday Tree Lighting and Tank Ceremony on the steps of the Old Courthouse on the downtown square of Crown Point. The tree’s lights are sponsored by Gary and Hammond Local 697, Sergeant Electric and others. After the tree lighting, visitors walked to a military tank that is illuminated as a memorial in support of U.S. military troops.
For the past several years,Niagara, N.Y., Local 237 has installed a lighting display in Schoellkopf Park across from a health center. In a letter to the editor of the Niagara Falls Reporter,Joseph Ruffolo, president and CEO of the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, thanks the local for holiday lights that “bring smiles to the faces of people of all ages, especially the residents of our Schoellkopf Health Center, whose rooms and dining areas overlook the park.”
For the first time in a decade, the Detroit Zoo will present a holiday light display, sponsored by the Bank of America,Local 58, Kroger, Pepsi and others. “Wild Lights” will take guests along a half-mile trail featuring live performances that include carolers and a mini-musical. Prior to the holidays, Local 58 signatory contractors contributed to the zoo’s “go green” effort, installing energy-saving lights at the main exhibit and pavilions.
St. Paul, Minn.
Families of military service members drove through St. Paul, Minn.’s, Holiday Lights in the Park display at no charge on Dec/ 3. yhe broadly popular yearly display of more than 60 holiday light sculptures in Phalen Park is run by volunteers from Minneapolis Local 292 and the King of Kings Lutheran Church of Woodbury and expects 100,000 visitors. Read the2011 IBEW Web storyon Lights in the Park.
Madison, Wis., Local 159 and the National Electrical Contractors Association welcome 100,000 vehicles to the “Holiday Fantasy in Lights” in Olin Park on the shore of Lake Monona.
The “Holiday Fantasy in Lights” in Madison’s OlinPark draws around 100,000 people.WXOW.comreports the event started in 1989 with 12 displays, but now shines with more than 50. The TV channel’s Website says, “The International Brotherhood of Electrical [Local 159] and the National Electrical Contractors Association partnered to create [the light exhibit], hoping to give the city a gift. They believed a skilled union electrician could light up anything and Holiday Fantasy of Lights was born.”The Wisconsin State Journal reported that more than 100,000 vehicles drive through the exhibit.
A letter to the editor in the Reading Eagle, said, “The city couldn’t even afford to fix the Christmas lights at 14th and Buttonwood Streets, so the children of this city could gaze upon the wonders of a beautiful holiday scene. But thanks to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 743, the wiring will be fixed and everyone will be able to enjoy the beautiful array of lights.”
On Nov. 9, 200 volunteers from Indianapolis Local 481 installed nearly 5,000 lights, 52 garland strands and more than 50 life-sized figures including sailors, toy soldiers and peppermint sticks as part of the city’s “Circle of Lights” exhibit.Before they finished, they had installed six miles of electrical wire. Union volunteers have contributed to the monument’s lighting for all 51 years, says Business Manager Sean Seyforth, a second-generation member who once accompanied his father as he volunteered his time on the lighting project. Read the IBEW Web story on Circle of Lights.