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home : features : pv April 29, 2016

12/4/2013 10:24:00 AM
Prescott Valley Festival of Lights is Friday
Prescott Valley Public Works employees Bruno Jurries, in the bucket, and  Kenny Bowman string lights around the Civic Center in preparation for the Holiday Festival of Lights and parade this Friday.
Courtesy Photo
Prescott Valley Public Works employees Bruno Jurries, in the bucket, and Kenny Bowman string lights around the Civic Center in preparation for the Holiday Festival of Lights and parade this Friday.
Courtesy Photo
Festival of Lights Schedule:
4:45 - 5 p.m.: Music by Coyote Springs Choir

5 - 5:30 p.m.: Music by Liberty Chamber Singers

5:30 p.m.: Welcome by Mayor Harvey Skoog

5:40 p.m.: Children's Story Time with Chamber CEO Marnie Uhl

5:50 p.m.: Lighting of Civic Center

6 p.m.: Night Light Parade begins

6:30 p.m.: Visit and photos with Santa and Create A Tree Viewing at Civic Center

Special to the Tribune

The Prescott Valley's Civic Center lighting is a much-anticipated aspect of the holiday season for many. But what does it take to make this free event happen? Hardworking employees began in October to make the breathtaking sight.

This Friday, after the program and big countdown, Mayor Harvey Skoog will give the order, and the entire complex will come alive with multi-colored lights. While the lights appear to come on with the flick of a switch, it actually is a carefully choreographed feat. Eight employees in radio contact, staged at the police headquarters, the library, the Civic Center building and a well house on Lake Valley Road, all will illuminate their respective areas at the "one" count, said Public Works employee Tim Collins, who has headed up the decorating crew since 1999.

The Town in the mid '90s moved the lighting from Robert Road and Highway 69 to Mountain Valley Park. When the Civic Center was complete, the Town christened its first holiday season with a small light display at the Town Hall and the police buildings.

Not only has the display grown in size each year (nearly a million lights by Collins's estimate), it is now built mostly with LED lights. Collins said incandescent lighting was expensive, fragile and costly to run. The LEDs cost half as much in electricity, need fewer hours for installation, and last 8-12 years.

Each year, Collins and crew unpack the lights, look them over, and then brainstorm new ideas.

"Three years ago at the library a couple of the fleet guys helped design steel ornaments in the shape of a bell, bow, stocking and candy cane. We put lights on them and hung them off the side of the library building. We also designed the trees on the front wall of the building," he said.

Town employees during the year pass along ideas and new products they've seen, and some new items, like the "snow tubes" on several of the center's larger trees, have been incorporated into the display.

This year, crews have changed the police complex lighting to LED lights, and many more of the smaller trees around the center will be lit.

"Next year, if it's in the budget, we want to light up the median on Lakeshore between each end of the Civic Circle, so the whole parade route will be lit," Collins said.

Town Manager Larry Tarkowski said the annual lighting display is a "growing process, similar to what the Town has done. Every year, it's bigger and better."

When the display is ready to come down, every strand is separately bagged, labeled, and placed in rubber cans for safekeeping.

By Dec. 6, Collins and his crews will have labored for two straight months. After 13 years, he admits to a bit of "bah humbug" by the time the work is done. But that quickly goes away when the lights come on.

"The best feeling on that Friday night in December is to hear all the kids going 'ooh' and 'aah.' That's pretty cool," he said.

Related Stories:
• Festival of Lights to set Civic Center aglow

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