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Chicago’s Millennium Park gave credit where it’s due for its magnificent 2020 tree, posting: “Powering Chicago electrical contractor All Tech Energy and skilled union electricians from IBEW Local 134 transformed the Christmas tree by testing and installing 65,000 lights. Judging by this picture, it was certainly worth the effort.” (Click the arrows to advance photos.)

After weeks of preparation, Chicago Local 134 members installed nearly 5 miles of lights on the 45-foot Blue Spruce in Millennium Park. In a video capturing the project start to finish, Business Manager Don Finn said it’s a sentimental journey: “The lighting of the tree is kind of the lighting of the Christmas season, and we want to be a part of it.”

Wearing Powering Chicago/IBEW Local 134 jackets, a family staying at the Ronald McDonald House remotely threw the switch to light up the 2020 Millennium Park tree. Check out Powering Chicago’s Facebook page to see what else IBEW members are doing to brighten the holiday season for families with hospitalized children.

At Olin Park in Madison, Wis., the Holiday Fantasy in Lights installed by Local 159 members and retirees is always popular. But as a drive-through event, the sprawling display of animated light sculptures is perfectly suited to 2020. “It’s a great safe way for families to come out and look at the lights,” Local 159 referral agent Ken Jungenberg said in a TV interview.

Opening night for the 2020 Circle of Lights in Indianapolis was virtual this year, but the display is as spectacular as ever thanks to Local 481 members and retirees who’ve been bringing it to life for decades. “While we may celebrate the holidays differently this year, the spirit of our community will always shine bright!” the local said in a Facebook post. Don’t miss their joyful video about the project.

On social media, Indianapolis Local 481 saluted the retired volunteers who turned out in early November to begin installing the 2020 Circle of Lights: “As we prepare to put the lights up on the monument, we have to say thanks to this wonderful group of retirees. They continue to show our local union what being a good union member is all about.”

Local 1547 is known throughout Alaska for its good works. In its home city of Anchorage, Business Manager Dave Reaves said COVID-19 has hit the community hard. “With many folks out of work and a partial lockdown, many families have found themselves on the ropes and feeling down,” he said. “We wanted to do something to brighten people’s spirits and encourage folks to safely patronize retail shops.” So began the journey of a 31-foot White Spruce harvested from the Chugach National Forest.

The Chugach National Forest donated the 31-foot White Spruce. Local 1547 arranged for it to be harvested and transported by flatbed truck to Anchorage.

The majestic tree was raised in Anchorage Town Square Park and decorated by Local 1547 members with the support of NECA-Alaska and IBEW signatory contractors Chugach Electric Association and AK Tree Services. Business Manager Dave Reaves said the local was proud to work with so many community partners to enliven downtown and provide a festive holiday backdrop for ice skaters in the park’s rink.

The Silver Bells Electric Light Parade usually draws more than 50,000 people to downtown Lansing, Mich. For 2020, organizers created a “home edition” that salutes Local 665 and NECA for making the parade bigger, better, and brighter every year. “We love being a part of it,” Business Manager Aaron Pangborn said.

The Silver Bells Parade first marched down Lansing’s Capitol Avenue in 1984 with 20 floats. Thanks to Local 665 and NECA, some 1 million lights now illuminate more than 100 floats, marching bands and other entries. “What we’re going to miss this year because of COVID-19 is everybody getting together downtown to watch the parade and the tree get lit and the fireworks and the music — everybody having a great time, good weather, bad weather,” Business Manager Aaron Pangborn said on the event’s 2020 home-edition video.

When the Sioux City, Iowa, holiday parade lost its sponsor years ago, Local 231 took over. “Kids are like 40 deep,” eager for Santa and candy tossed from floats, Business Manager Jason Bowman described. A past IBEW entry is pictured above, left. This year, at right, creative thinking saved a version of the parade. “They called it a reverse parade where the floats stayed stationary and the kids rode around them in parents’ cars,” Bowman said. “It wasn’t ideal, but we did the best we could in a pandemic.”

In downtown Santa Barbara, Calif., Local 413 members and their families have been climbing and decorating the city’s 100-foot “Tree of Light” for nearly a century. The 2020 crew is pictured at right. Atop the tree, at left from a previous season, member Matt Russell gets ready to pull up 16 strings of lights, as his father did for many years before him. The decorated tree is a frequent backdrop for local TV newscasts

IBEW Members Light Up A Holiday Season Like No Other

December 23, 2020

Holiday lights are a form of seasonal magic, radiating cheer, drawing instant smiles, evoking happy memories and lifting spirits. It’s hard to imagine a year when we’ve needed that more.

We wanted to share a sampling of the brilliance that IBEW elves bring to cities big and small across North America. Every year, they string miles of bulbs on towering trees, bring animated displays to life, lead electrified parades, and make downtowns, parks, zoos, bridges and more sparkle like jewels.

The weight of 2020’s challenges forced some cities to cancel or cut back their annual displays. Others went forward as planned, but without the roar of opening-night crowds as the switches were thrown. Instead, organizers put on virtual ceremonies via streaming and broadcast TV.

Click through the slideshow above to see samples of the joy that IBEW members made possible this season. We know that countless other locals create dazzling displays at this time of year, and we’d love to publish your pictures in future stories and slideshows. Please send high-resolution photos and caption details to us at: media@ibew.org.