Posts Tagged ‘Christmas Lights’

Christmas lights to cost £252,500

More than a quarter of a million pounds is to be spent by the city council on Dundee’s Christmas lights displays this year.
The economic development committee unanimously gave approval for the provision of displays in the City Square, the city centre and at several local centres across Dundee.

Dundee Contract Services has been awarded the installation work for the city centre, Broughty Ferry, Westport, Seabraes, Stobswell, Lochee and Whitfield at a total cost of just over £218,000.

Economic development director Doug Grimmond said the City Square display is in the final year of a three-year lease arrangement with Scotia Animations Ltd and will cost just over £34,500.

City Square will have a 45-feet high artificial tree, with red bows and thousands of white lights. Greenery will be attached to the Caird Hall columns, the City Square fountains illuminated, light cones put on natural trees and the area behind the Caird Hall columns back-washed with coloured lights.

For the rest of the city centre, light features will be displayed in Reform Street, Whitehall Street, Crichton Street, Castle Street, Commercial Street, Murraygate, High Street, Nethergate and Union Street.

In Broughty Ferry, there will be a natural tree and lights at the library and in Brook Street and Gray Street; Lochee will have a natural tree and lights on the roundabout at the by-pass; natural trees and lights will also be put up at Westport, at Seabraes in Perth Road, in Whitfield at the police station and in Stobswell in the Morgan Academy grounds.

DTI to monitor Christmas lights sale

WITH the Christmas season just a couple of months away, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Southern Mindanao is now intensifying their monitoring of the influx of Christmas lights in the city’s trading centers.

In an interview Monday, Boy Cubillas, Senior Trade and Industry Development Specialist of DTI said they are now monitoring the influx of Christmas lights into the region without the Import Clearance Commodity sticker being issued by the agency.

“Like last year, we started around September, we do not do it during December,” Cubillas said.

“We monitor it during the months leading to the Holiday season.”

Christmas lights without the quality seal of the DTI usually proliferate in the various shopping establishments in the city.

Due to their substandard quality, these Christmas lights usually cause electric short circuits resulting to fires.

However, a bigger problem being faced by the trade department is the modus operandi of some importers who initially submit quality Christmas lights for testing by the trade department.

Afterwards, these importers would then import sub quality Christmas lights and use the codes of the ICC given by the trade department for the sub quality Christmas lights.

Ice destroyed Christmas lights must be replaced

Last winter’s ice storm completely destroyed Clay Center’s Christmas decorations, but Chamber officials are in the final stages of selecting complete new designs to replace the old.

“They (city utilities) said there is nothing left,” Chamber director Andy Contreras said. “We’ll be getting them replaced and we’ve picked out a design we’re happy with.”

Contreras said the Chamber is in negotiations with two vendors, and that a final decision won’t be made until after Piotique.

“We’re not doing anything until Sept. 29,” Contreras said. He said the Chamber has access to some funds but may need to raise some contributions to complete the decoration replacement.

Among decorations being considered are five foot banners for light poles.

“I don’t know if we’ll be able to do all of it this year,” Contreras said, “but we’ve been working with Bill (Callaway) and he has been very helpful.

Contreras said he is spending most of his time in preparation for Piotique Sept. 27 and that the Chamber’s web site has received a lot of electronic registrations from vendors, parade participants and those interested in participating in the three-on-three basketball event.

“We still need people to sign up for basketball,” he said.

Will Christmas light shine in Malmesbury?

MALMESBURY faces the prospect of a Christmas without lights this year after the chamber of commerce revealed it can not afford to chip in towards the cost.

The chamber has paid a donation each year since the town council took over responsibility for the illuminations back in 2004.

Last year it helped to raise money towards a £3,000 new set of LED lights and handed over a £500 towards the annual bill, which is usually around the £2,000 mark.

But now it says there is nothing left in the kitty.

Chamber chairman Alan Woodward explained: “Money has become tight over the past couple of years especially. We employ a secretary part-time and to pay her wages we need every bit of money spare that comes in.

“By the time we have paid our subscription to the Wessex Association and the secretary’s wages there is nothing left.”

He said the late night shopping evening was their main event of the year and a lot of time and effort was put into it.

“We have written to non-member retailers in the high street to ask for support and the response has been feeble.”

Only two businesses, one a major chain, had responded.

But many more had the chance to benefit from the event. “Our members are basically subsidising them,” he said.

As far as the lights themselves were concerned, members did want to see them up but last year’s £500 donation had left the organisation in desperate straits.

The main cost involved is putting up the display and paying for the electricity.

Mayor Andrew Woodcock said: “It would be a dreadful shame when all the surrounding towns, Cirencester, Tetbury and Chippenham have them.”

The council, which was due to discuss the issue as the Standard went to press, is hoping to canvass chamber members and other traders before taking a decision on the future of the lights.

One choice is to pay the full costs itself. But Mr Woodcock said: “If push comes to shove the problem is that we have only got one source of revenue, which basically is the ratepayers.

“We would very much like to put the Christmas lights up but we are cognisant of the fact that at the end of the day it is those ratepayers that will have to foot the bill.”

Dexter can’t afford Christmas lights

There’s no doubt that holiday lights will twinkle in downtown Dexter this holiday season. What’s not clear is who will pay for the decorations that have become a Christmas tradition.

At its meeting Monday night, the Dexter Village Council discussed an Aug. 18 letter from the Dexter Area Chamber of Commerce that said the chamber can no longer afford to pay the approximately $5,000 cost for the holiday lights that adorn lampposts, trees and displays in Monument Park.

“While we all so much enjoy the lights and we feel they are important to all the citizens of Dexter, financial constraints make it impossible for the Dexter Chamber of Commerce to continue to bear all the costs and responsibilities of the project,” the letter states.

The letter notes that the chamber “has been working aggressively to reduce costs by cutting staff and implementing cost-cutting measures throughout our organization.”

The chamber said it could offer a yearly $1,000 contribution to the project as well as a donation of the lights that are stored at the old Department of Public Works Building below the fire station. The board encouraged the council to take over the project.

Council Member Paul Cousins, who is the liaison to the chamber, said that in the past the chamber hired someone to put up, maintain and take down all the lights.

“The chamber decided that its funds should be used for more business-oriented things,” Cousins said.

Council President Shawn Keough said he would approach the village’s Downtown Development Authority to see if it was interested in picking up some of the costs for the annual holiday lights.

“I don’t have a problem with us helping with this,” he said.

Council Member Donna Fisher said she thought the lighting of downtown “should be a DDA function.”

In addition, there are liability and manpower issues that will need to be worked out, said Village Manager Donna Dettling.

Cousins said the village lift truck could be used to help install the lights, but he said that the work usually takes place at the end of November, which is also the end of the village’s leaf-pickup season.

“If we are going to take it over, let’s have snap and pop, simple, clean white lights,” that are easy to install, said Council Member Ray Tell.

Man delights in ‘fanatic’ lights

The 500 extension cords, the 100,000 lights, the 57 flying metal reindeer, the neon nativity scene, the bubble machine, his very own FM transmitter so he can synchronize all this to “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus,” it’s tempting to conclude that Marty Slack is a fanatic. But as he told a reporter for CBS News last December: “I think I’m beyond fanatic. I was fanatic a few years ago.”

Slack has become a Christmas icon in the Salt Lake Valley, where on a typical weekend night in mid-December a thousand cars snake through his neighborhood to get a look at his house at 5631 Whispering Pine Circle. And then last year his fame went global when he won grand prize in the PlanetChristmas Worldwide Decorating Contest. That was in the “over the top” category, in a contest where nearly everyone had multiple inflatable snowmen and programmable lights.

There were thousands of entries from all over the world, says PlanetChristmas founder Chuck Smith of Franklin, Tenn., who decided not to run a 2007 contest because “the people who lost took it very seriously.”

There is no succinct term for people whose hobby is decorating their houses with Christmas lights. Smith has settled, instead, on the word “addict.” In the chat room on his Web site, he says, 6,000 people talk about Christmas 12 months a year.

If there is a typical Christmas lights addict, Smith says, it’s a middle-aged man with extra money to spend and a vivid childhood memory of the one house in his neighborhood that went overboard with decorations.

Marty Slack can still remember the thrill of looking at Christmas lights from the back seat of his parents’ car, and 40 years later he wants to re-create that feeling of enchantment, for himself and everybody else. He is fond of saying that he has often observed tired, ornery people drive up to his house, he imagines them, just minutes before, grumpily trudging through the mall and then they see his display and suddenly they’re smiling.

Slack’s journey began in the early 1990s, the Christmas after he and his wife, Micalle, moved to their split-level. Micalle wanted some Christmas lights, so Marty hung a few strands along the rain gutter which he left until the next Christmas. By then the sun had bleached the reds and greens to white.

And then one thing led to another, he says. One year he built a 40-foot tower of lights, and another year a giant star. He was starting to get his Christmas excitement back. Pretty soon people were stopping to admire his work, which made him want to try even harder. So he added live music in his garage, and in 2003 he figured out how to do a synchronized light show.

Because Slack’s creations can be viewed on his Web site,, he gets letters and e-mail from all over the world. Some want tips for their own decorating. The ones who have seen the house in person thank him for cheering them up. One woman, who had lost both her husband and a son that year, credited Slack’s extravagant, playful display with making her want to keep on living.

But, to tell you the truth, “it’s a lot of work and a lot of money,” says Slack, who is operations battalion chief with the Unified Fire Authority. What most people don’t realize, he says, is that it takes 30 hours just to lay out the extension cords right. And then there are the months he spends figuring out how to program the lights and to line up each blink with a beat of music. One minute of music takes 20 hours of thinking and fiddling. Plus, the lights fade and parts wear out, and before you know it the cost of replacing and expanding adds up to $5,000 a year.

“I look at it this way,” he says. “All my friends have boats and trailers and jet skis. And I have Christmas.”

“Marty can never do anything in moderation,” says his wife. She and their two daughters and son have come into the kitchen on this weekend morning, the day after the official lights-on ceremony, and they all begin to gently rib Slack. He smiles but also looks a little bit hurt.

In the early years of Christmas Utah, before Slack fine-tuned the display, the family had to sit inside the house with the indoor lights out, and if they tried to use the clothes dryer it would overload the circuits. Micalle felt like a hostage in those days. Now the only problem is getting back into the neighborhood if she goes out on an errand. The line of cars waiting to get into Whispering Pine Circle can back up past Vine Street onto 5600 South on the weekends right before Christmas.

The light display is synchronized to music broadcast by Slack on 99.9 FM. The lights are on from 5:15 to 10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, through the first week of January. That’s more than 200 hours of viewing and even then there have been people who have knocked on the Slacks’ door at midnight, rousing the family from sleep, asking him to turn the lights back on.

If you’re thinking of having lots of Christmas lights this season…think again

CHRISTMAS carols are now being played more often, hotels and other establishments have begun adorning their facades with glittering lights and soon every household will follow suit in the spirit of the holidays.

But the high cost of electricity on the islands may be like the Grinch who stole Christmas.

This month, the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. is charging residential customers 30.2 cents per kilowatt hour.

Commercial establishments will be charged 34.4 cents per kwh while the government will be billed 34.9 cents per kwh — the highest power rates ever imposed in CNMI history.

CUC spokeswoman Pamela Mathis said, depending on volts and watt-demand, Christmas lights typically cost 1 cent to 4.8 cents per kwh.

The Icicle “100” lights will cost you 1 cent per kwh while a regular string of mini tree lights would cost 4.8 cents per kwh.

Lighted Christmas trees should not cost that much if you use the fiber optic type.

Mathis said a 7-ft-tall fiber optic Christmas tree would cost consumers just 1.4 cents per kwh.

A frosty ornament lighted tree would cost 1.8 cents per kwh.

A regular lighted twinkle-tree constant would cost more at 5.9 cents per kwh.

“Costs will decrease a bit if the resident uses 1,000 kwh or less per month,” said Mathis.

70,000 Christmas Lights at Senske

70,000 lights dance to music at the Senske showcase of lights at the corner of Deschutes and Quay in Kennewick.

Senske specializes in landscaping, pest control, but in the winter they specialize in home décor and lighting.

The lights are synchronized to five classic christmas songs playing in a continuous loop. The music is broadcast over the radio on 101.7 fm and there are also some speakers here. The lights are programmed with the same computer software used in major theme parks.

Apart from the lights, Senske is going “green” featuring all energy-saving “LED” lights.

LED lights use about 90 percent less power and are supposed to last longer. The down side however is they cost 6 to 8 times more than regular light bulbs.

The animated light show costs about 40,000 dollars.

It starts at 5 pm and goes until midnight every day.

Lighting your house up like a Christmas tree

IT STARTED five years ago as a way to celebrate Nicole Dzanovski’s favourite time of year — Christmas. Her house in Torbay Street, Macleod, was too small for a Christmas tree, so she put it outside, with some fairy lights, a candle in the window and icicle lights along the eaves.

Somehow the display has evolved into a Las Vegas-style spectacle, a neighbourhood landmark that gets bigger and brighter every year.

Metre-high candy-cane lights line the driveway. A Santa and an elf ride a flashing seesaw. She made wooden elves, carollers and another Santa with sleigh.

New this year, from switch-on time tomorrow, there will be a big Merry Christmas sign on over the carport, a lamp post, and a Nativity scene made of rope lights on the lawn.

She’s not alone. Christmas lights have joined putting up the tree, shopping and going to church as a ritual of the Christmas season, which arguably starts today, December 1.

Psychologist Sally-Anne McCormack said traditions could reconnect us with family and friends, and made us feel part of a community.

Her own teenage daughter this week was enjoying stringing up Christmas lights and talking about them to neighbours, “wanting everyone to be part of the celebration”.

“The one difficult thing is that we often have too much stress at this time of year, we try and squash too much into the four weeks of December,” Ms McCormack said.

Advent calendars are a ritual for many families, starting on the first Sunday of Advent — tomorrow. In religious versions, you open a cardboard window each day to reveal an image from the Nativity such as a lamb or a star, culminating with the baby Jesus on Christmas Eve. Supermarkets sell more secular versions that include a chocolate or lolly a day, and images of Santa or Shrek.

This weekend is the busiest of the year for the Christmas Tree Farm at Moorooduc, near Frankston. Laurelle McLellan said the 56-hectare farm would be “like a madhouse” because many people resolved to set up their tree by December 1.

Peter Canals of Canals Seafood in Carlton North said seafood was increasingly popular for the Christmas feast, as consumers realised they did not want to spend hours cooking a turkey or chicken on a hot day.

Tradition is not all about what you buy. Community carols services have sprung up all over town in recent years.

Four years ago, the Christmas Eve service turnout was dwindling at Seddon Uniting Church, so regulars shifted it outdoors to nearby Harris Reserve and added a children’s Nativity play.

Church elder Lyn Redding said: “I don’t know what the stigma is, but a lot of people don’t like the idea of going into a church. So, we decided we would take it out to them, and it’s worked very well.”

Can you celebrate Christmas without lights?

The City of Cape Town has slammed any plans Eskom may have of asking municipalities to switch off their Christmas lights this year to conserve power.

The city’s public lighting manager, Charles Kadalie, on Sunday said he had heard rumours that Eskom could request the city to switch off its Christmas lights.

“But we are not paying much attention to that.”

He said the festive season did not have a significant impact on energy resources and calling on people to celebrate Christmas without lights was not the answer.

“The lights must come on as per usual; they (Eskom) must concentrate their efforts on asking consumers to conserve energy in other ways.”

On Saturday it was reported that Eskom was considering asking municipalities to switch off their Christmas lights, but Eskom’s regional communications manager Jolene Henn said on Sunday that there was no substance to the claim.

“Eskom cannot force them (the city) to switch their lights off as there are certain constraints. We can never take away from the spirit of the festive season.

All we are asking is that consumers enjoy the season but also assist us in our drive to save power,” Henn said.

“In order to alleviate the load, we’re asking customers for a mindshift.

“Electricity users need to come to the party by switching their geysers and all non-essential appliances off before going to bed.”

Henn said consumers tended to be more relaxed about electricity usage during the festive season because demand was usually lower as most industries closed for the holidays.

In addition, she said Eskom was also advising customers to replace their regular light bulbs and use the energy saving bulbs on their lights, including Christmas decorations. “Use power sparingly,” she urged.

Carnaby Christmas lights: stunning chain reaction

Carnaby, famous for its astounding Christmas installations, brings another notable display this year from 14 November 2007. Designed by James Glancy Design the oversized and brightly coloured ‘paper chain’ installations, interlink through the main thoroughfare of Carnaby Street and connecting all twelve streets of the Carnaby area.

This Christmas, Carnaby is proudly supporting Barnardo’s Believe in Children campaign. Barnardo’s is one of the UK’s leading children’s charities working with 115,000 vulnerable and disadvantaged children, young people and families across the UK. The brightly coloured paper chains signify the global accord that is felt for Barnardo’s and are symbolic of a ‘childhood’ Christmas.

Carnaby will also play host to a Barnardo’s vintage clothing store over the Christmas period to help raise vital funds for the charity. The ‘pop up’ store is being launched at 11/12 Carnaby Street on Saturday 1 December 2007 and promises to create a chain reaction of its own.

Legendry songstress Dame Shirley Bassey has donated a stunning selection of her favourites which will be on sale alongside other donations from Barnardo’s celebrity supporters including a coat donated by Lord of the Rings actor Andy Serkis who played Gollum. The shop will also offer specially selected retro and vintage clothes, and a selection of records and books from the 70’s and 80’s.

This year the ‘paper chain’ design will utilise the Carnaby building up lighters to interact at night with the holographic finish of the Christmas decorations, therefore using no extra electricity for the display. Further to this, by using a highly reflective material and extremely bright colours, the oversized ‘paper chains’ will react to sunlight too, which removes the use of electricity during daylight hours altogether.

Simon Quayle, Shaftesbury PLC says; “Carnaby is constantly moving forward and this Christmas we are delighted to announce our support of Barnardo’s. The concept of the paper chains linking the streets of Carnaby and Barnardo’s together is extremely powerful”

Christmas Lights Planner

Christmas Lights Planner lets the family join in the fun of designing a Christmas light display for your home.

Load a digital image, shot in the daytime, of your house onto a PC.

Open Christmas Lights Planner and the image of your home.

When your home is visible on the screen, a computerized image of a front door will appear.

Size the computerized door according to your front door to get the exact dimensions to start designing with lights — every type of light imaginable is included, along with decorations.

Once your creative masterpiece is completed, print out a shopping list that includes an estimated number of lights and decorations needed. Software program supports all sorts of lighting including energy-efficient LED lights.

See Christmas Lights Planner

Procession of schoolchildren herald turning on of Christmas lights

A procession of more than 100 schoolchildren will march to Queens Square for the switching on of the christmas lights.
Former Eastender and star of this year’s panto Michelle Gayle will turn the lights on and the ceremony will be followed by live music.

The procession will take place as part of the annual Illuminati Festival which celebrates cultural diversity and community using light and colour as its theme.

Taking place on Thursday November 22 in Hastings Town Centre the processions starts at 5pm with 150 schoolchildren being accompanied by stiltwalkers heading from the rear of Priory Meadows, up South Terrace to the junction by M&S.

After that the marchers will turn right and continue down to Queens Square to by the Cricketer.

Here the Christmas lights in the town centre will be turned on.

The children will carry umbrellas lit from within, which they will design and decorate themselves in the build up to the event, working alongside local community groups, Radiator Arts, and the WRVS cultural heritage project.

The umbrellas are designed to reflect cultural festivals of light and colour from around the world, such as Diwali, Tihar, Eid, Chinese New Year, Dashain, Holi and of course Christmas.

Organisers are expecting a crowd of more than 3,000 peopl

Big Brother Stars Will Turn on Christmas Lights

Twin stars of Big Brother 8 Sam and Amanda Marchant have been revealed as the stars who will turn on this year’s Christmas illuminations in Plymouth.

The reality TV stars, who have also launched a pop career, will be pushing the plunger on Thursday, November 15, as part of a packed evening of entertainment marking the start of this year’s exciting festive season.

‘Samanda’, who have just made their pop debut with a remake of Aqua’s Barbie Girl, will be joined on stage by other familiar faces including Toby Hull and Emu and 17-year-old Plymstock School pupil Anelisa Lamola, who appeared on ITV’s The X Factor.

This year’s switch-on will take place at 6.25pm at the top of Cornwall Street and will include music performances and competitions.

There will also be music at Frankfort Gate from 3.30pm to 7pm, with a record-breaking martial arts display and a lantern parade organised by the Barbican Theatre. Anelisa Lamola will be singing live at both sites during the evening.

The city centre will boast &pound450,000 of illuminations, many designed by the company responsible for lighting up London’s Oxford Street and the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

The event signals the start of late night Christmas shopping which runs every Thursday from 15 November to 20 December.

Plymouth is aiming to provide a truly magical atmosphere for shoppers and visitors this year, with dozens of attractions throughout the festive period, including the Ice Castle in Armada Way where children will be able to visit Santa and his elves, as well as street entertainers, family fairground rides and a giant Christmas tree.

Other highlights include the return of the Christmas outdoor markets and Santa’s sleigh, which will be pulled through the streets of Plymouth by his team of adorable reindeer on 16 December. An open air carol service in association with St Andrew’s Church will be held each Thursday at 6.30pm around the giant Christmas tree donated by the Rotary Club of Plymouth Mayflower.

Plymouth’s shops will be open until 9pm every Thursday. In the week before Christmas (commencing 17 December) shops will be open every night until 8pm. Shoppers will be able to park free at Western Approach car park from 4pm on Thursday 15 November and every other Thursday in the run-up to Christmas.

Councillor Glenn Jordan, Cabinet Member for Healthy Communities and Leisure, said: “Shoppers and visitors are guaranteed bags of festive fun in Plymouth this year, with fantastic Christmas activities and entertainment for all the family, a great selection of shops and a spectacular lights display. We look forward to seeing everyone in Cornwall Street next week for the countdown to Plymouth’s biggest and best ever Christmas celebrations.”

David Draffan, Managing Director of Plymouth City Centre Company said: “Plymouth’s Christmas celebrations are looking bigger and better than ever before for 2007. Late night shopping, amazing lights, carol singing, fairground rides and the many Christmas markets taking place during the festive season mean that there’s something for everyone.

“The arrival of Santa’s Ice Castle is a very exciting development and together with the packed entertain programme it means Plymouth this Christmas it’s the only place to go for a truly traditional festive experience for the entire family.”

Deck the halls with LED bulbs

Christmas is coming, and it’s time to deck the halls, but many holiday lovers may not realize they can save 80 to 98 percent of the energy costs of Christmas lights by switching to LEDs (light-emitting diodes).

LED bulbs are also environmentally friendly, nearly unbreakable, can be used indoors and outdoors, are weather- and water-resistant and do not heat up like conventional bulbs, making them safer.

“They’re cool to the touch. You don’t have to worry about an ornament touching a light and starting on fire,” said Tracey Haberman, communications specialist with Nobles Cooperative Electric.

In honor of the festive season, Nobles Cooperative Electric will exchange functional conventional lights for strings of LED bulbs for a nominal fee.

Energy cost comparisons between conventional and LED bulbs are stunning, particularly when compared with outdoor lights.

For 600 traditional outdoor-style lights on for six hours a day for 45 days, the energy cost is $56.70. For the same number of lights and the same amount of time, the cost of indoor mini-lights is $4.82.

The energy cost of running 600 LEDs for the same period would total 96 cents.

“They cost a little more up front, but it’ll pay for itself,” said Adam Tromblay, Nobles Cooperative Electric’s member services manager.

The LED bulbs come in large and small sizes as well as white and multicolored.

Unlike LEDs sold at some other locations, the bulbs for the lights available through the cooperative can be replaced, and replacement bulbs are included in the package along with the string. In addition, if one LED burns out, the rest of the string will remain lit.

Conventional bulbs have a life less than 10,000 hours, and LED bulbs have a life of 60,000 hours. Unlike compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs), LEDs can be thrown into the garbage when they burn out.

Although the promotion of the energy-efficient LEDs began Oct. 1, 415 strands of the old bulbs have already been traded and snipped so they cannot be used. They have been replaced by 415 strands of new bulbs.

The project’s goal was to exchange 500 strands total, but given the promotion’s success, the cooperative has already ordered more LED lights.

Nobles Cooperative Electric estimates the 415 strands of lights traded so far will save customers a total of $12,765. Great River Energy, the cooperative’s power supplier, gives the cooperative a rebate for the LEDs.

LEDs look about the same as conventional Christmas lights and can be seen on display outdoors and indoors at the Nobles Cooperative Electric building just north of the Prairie Justice Center.

Prairie Holdings’ annual Christmas display also utilizes energy-saving LED bulbs, allowing the company to put on an impressive show at about a tenth the energy costs of conventional bulbs.

“It’s a really great opportunity for people to save and conserve, especially during the holiday season,” Haberman said.

Christmas lights delight

YORK is set for a very merry Christmas this year, after residents and tourists were handed two early gifts from city leaders.

In a surprise announcement, ruling councillors said they were able to pay for the city’s full array of cross-street festive lights to be put up this year, meaning York will enjoy a bright Christmas – just like the ones it used to know.

In a second boost for shoppers and traders, councillors also revealed they were hoping to offer reduced parking charges on one or two days in the run-up to Christmas.

The news has been welcomed by city centre retailers, economic leaders, and councillors.

Graham Barlow, owner of The Miniature Scene, in Fossgate, said: “It’s very good news as far as I am concerned.

“York is a city that lends itself to a Christmas atmosphere, and anything that will enhance that will attract more visitors

“The more then can do to attract visitors the better and once they are here, if we have the lights up people will not be disappointed.”

The council is spending £20,000 on the lights, with a further £10,000 coming from York City Centre Partnership, and £5,000 from traders.
Carolyn Dunn, of the York City Centre Partnership

The council is funding its share from a £500,000 business rates rebate from the Government, with the rest going towards the council’s vital reserves.

Council leader Steve Galloway said: “Cross-street lights in York are an important in part of our Christmas offer. Now having the funding in place to ensure they will be provided is great news.”

David Scott, leader of the council’s Labour group, said: “People come to York at Christmas time, and residents and visitors expect to see the lights. They are not looking for Blackpool lights – they want something more traditional and we have to meet those expectations.”

Carolyn Dunn of York City Centre Partnership, said: “We are absolutely delighted, and it shows true partnership working between ourselves, the council and the traders.

“The lights do attract people and psychologically people like having that extra sparkle.”

An earlier report, presented to councillors in June, had said cross-street lighting throughout the city centre would be too expensive, but the new windfall has made it affordable this year.

Last year, there were complaints after the council said they could not afford to fund the cross-street lights.

Instead, a specially-designed, sparkling Christmas tree was put up in Parliament Street.

Coun Scott said the boost was for this year only, but it also gave the council more time to try to come up with a long-term plan to work alongside retailers and the city-centre partnership to light the city every year.

Reduced parking charges
AS well as the boost of festive lights this year, shoppers and traders could also be set to benefit from reduced parking charges in the run up to Christmas.

City of York Council leader Steve Galloway said the new system, which allows motorists to pay for parking by mobile phone, was proving very successful and they are keen to encourage more people to take up the system.

As an incentive, and to help city centre businesses and attractions, the council executive is now exploring whether people paying in that way can be offered a discount as an incentive.

Coun Galloway said: “There is a considerable advantage to users and to the council, in terms of running costs if people choose to use the pay-by-phone system, not least because it means that people can buy extensions to the amount of time they have in the car park.”

He said discounts “would help city-centre activities at what is already a busy time.”

Cheeky switch-on for Christmas lights

Blackpool’s Christmas lights are to be switched-on by the Transylvanian pop duo The Cheeky Girls.

The twin sisters will be flicking the switch to start the countdown to Christmas on Sunday November 25, at 4.30pm, a week later than originally planned, outside St John’s Church.

The switch-on was originally planned for November 17, and 100,000 leaflets had been sent out with that date on.

However the suppliers of the new lights for the resort were unable to deliver them on time, causing a delay to the switch-on.

The Cheeky Girls, Gabriela and Monica, shot to fame in 2002 when they auditioned on ITV show Popstars: The Rivals. Their two auditions had the judges in fits of laughter, but several record labels saw something they liked, and approached the duo.

As a result they released the single The Cheeky Song, which got to number 2 in the UK chart, and then followed it up with Take Your Shoes Off and It’s A Cheeky Holiday, which both reached number 3.

Gabriela has also been romantically linked with Lib Dem MP Lembit Öpik.

Eileen Ormand, deputy manager for the Business Improvement District, said: “The delay has been unfortunate but there has been nothing we could do about it.

“We just need everyone to tell their friends now that the date has been moved, but the entertainment will still be as good as ever.”

The switch-on entertainment will start at 2pm on November 25, and Santa and his reindeers will start their procession through the town from the corner of Bank Hey Street and Victoria Street at 3.45pm.

Eileen added: “The first night of Thursday night shopping will still be November 22, and Santa’s reindeers will be at Matcham Court all evening for photographs, and the start of a name Santa’s new baby reindeer competition.

“The baby will go on to pull Santa’s sleigh in the future, so it’s important they get a great name from someone in Blackpool.”

Thursday nights and Saturday mornings will also be free parking in the resort again, after the success of the scheme last year.

The car parks at the Houndshill Centre and on West Street will be free, and will be just 50p on Sundays, from November 25 onwards.

Super Christmas lights return after gap year

A POPULAR charity Christmas lights display will be back – a year after it was blacked out following complaints about parking.

Residents of Spooners Close, Dullingham, are getting ready for a bumper display after putting last year’s disappointment behind them.

They have raised thousands of pounds for local charities and good causes.

But they pulled the plug last year after a disagreement over parking in the close by people who travel from all over the region to look at the display.

Visitors put donations in a collecting box and in 2005, the last time the displays were put up, a total of £3,600 was collected.

Now that the problems from last year have been resolved, residents are already starting work on this year’s displays.

Leona Lewis to turn on London’s Christmas lights

Leona Lewis will be switching on Oxford Street Christmas lights on 7th November. The singer, who is currently top of the UK singles charts, having outsold the rest of the top five put together, will turn on the central London illuminations at a switching on ceremony. Westlife and the cast of the West End Production of Mary Poppins will also perform.

“For nine weeks the dazzling canopy of chandeliers will stretch suspended above the heads of shoppers as they zip in and out of the 300 shops lining Oxford Street,” said Jace Tyrell from The New West End Company who organises the illuminations.

The lights are this year using LED bulbs, which use 75% less energy than conventional bulbs.

Earlier in the week, 218,000 copies of Leona’s Bleeding Love single were sold, giving Leona her second number one single.

“The sales are incredible,” said Simon Cowell of Leona’s achievement. “I’m absolutely thrilled for Leona, she thoroughly deserves it.”

In other Leona Lewis news, it is rumoured that UEG Music, a company who say they’ve spent a lot of money training Leona, is planning to sell an album of Leona’s demo songs called The Best Kept Secret soon after her Spirit debut album is released.

However, Leona’s representative has apparently said that UEG don’t have the rights to release the material. Ultimately the release looks likely to be blocked.

Her voice has constantly been compared to those of her idols – Mariah Carey, and Whitney Houston.

But now Leona Lewis not only sings like them, but is beginning to look like them as Britain’s top female singer unveiled a highly-styled diva image.

Leona, who Cowell declared “one of the best singers we’ve had in this country for 20 years”, has topped the charts with her second single Bleeding Love.

And in keeping with her new status, she swept onstage to perform at the Harpers Bazaar & Moet Gold party wearing a full-length, body-sculpting, shocking pink gown.

With hair scraped back into a ponytail, and dramatic smoky-eye make-up, Leona was virtually unrecognisable from the shy 21-year old who first appeared on the top reality show, and instead looked every inch the chart-topping star as she debuted her new look.

Blinded by the light

Even as the editor of the paper you don’t always hit a home run.

For those not in baseball mode yet, I end up looking more like the sad-sack Celtics or Bruins. Hey, even the Patriots don’t win the Super Bowl every year.

I often come up with story ideas which are then passed on to the reporters. If I didn’t think it was worthy of the reporter’s time, and thus making into the paper, I would keep quiet.

Recently (this week, actually) I felt it was worth to do a story on the fact that it is February and the Christmas lights are still on the trees on the Common.

While the idea of a homeowner with their lights and decorations still visible this late in the game does irk me, that was not the reason to have someone look into this story.

During a walk through the Common I noticed how the strands of lights were in quite disarray. Not only are there pieces of the green plastic wires and bulbs (whole and broken) on the ground where the wires are hanging, but parts of the strands in the trees were laying on the ground. And many of the wires not reaching the ground, have fallen down within arm’s length of children, and are all tangled.

If you ask me, that is a safety hazard. But, officials of Waltham disagreed. I know they have more important things to deal with, but I am surprised that it has been allowed to go on this long.

According to City Wires Inspector John Nedza, the decorations the city put up for the holiday season were taken down a couple weeks ago. The lights that we still see – not at night as the power has been shut off – are the responsibility of the contractor hired, CNM Electrical Construction, out of Braintree.

Apparently, the tropics-like winter is to blame.

“We can’t have a soft ground. If it’s too soft over there the big trucks will chew up the grass,” Nedza said.

Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t there a good stretch of frigid weather a couple weeks ago. I know the ground was frozen because I lost my wedding ring at a dog park (in Salem, but the weather was Arctic-like everywhere) and had to call off the search teams because we wouldn’t have been able to crack the frozen tundra.

Who knows, CNM might have been scurrying to take down lights in Peabody, Weymouth and Avon and didn’t get to the Watch City. I am not sure because the South Shore business didn’t call back.

A call to Mayor Jeannette A. McCarthy also proved fruitless in finding someone who was as concerned as I was.

“They are taken down weather permitting,” she said. “Honestly, I haven’t heard any complaints.”

So, I guess if no one complains they could, theoretically, be up there in November, when they won’t need to be installed again.

Ah, it might be getting clear now. Maybe the lights will stay up there all year, saving the city money? (Might be something for Newton to consider, to help pay for Newton North High School.)

One city councilor even refused to comment, saying he would probably get in trouble if they said anything. He also asked if it was a slow news day, further making his point that it was a non-story.

I went to the streets to see if average Joes like myself cared. About one-third of those I asked really didn’t care.

“If someone is stupid enough to run into (the wires) then they deserve to get whatever happens to them,” said Craig Elliott, who was walking along the Moody Street side of the common on the way to the Waltham Mills Artists Association.

Elizabeth Cardone, a Waltham resident, said she hadn’t noticed, but if she had she would wonder why they haven’t been taken down, almost six weeks after the holiday.

“It does bother me (now that I know),” she said. “People are so busy running around they probably haven’t gotten to it yet.”

Despite having very little support, I still feel it is a matter that should be looked into. Maybe the city will realize that, and a call to CNM will be hearing from Waltham soon.

Town with the Christmas lights jinx

IT’S the town with the Christmas lights jinx.

For years Diss has been the butt of jokes in Norfolk and even the national media as the town where the spirit of Scrooge is still alive and well.

This year a group of residents started planning in January to make certain the town finally got it right.

But this week they admitted it was not to be – and said they were considering legal action against the Kent-based contractors they blame for the latest “fiasco”.

Only three strings of lights had been put up in time for rock star Rick Wakeman to flick the switch earlier this month – and they fused straight away plunging the town back into darkness. Even the Christmas tree had to be removed because of health and safety fears.

Town officials said they had heard enough excuses from Cascade Illuminations – but once again promised that things would be different in 12 months’ time.

Town clerk Deborah Sarson said: “It’s such a blow for Diss. The town has been so let down by its lights and this is another year of it. It’s not just about what the company promised and didn’t deliver, it’s about a lack of credibility for the town.”

Problems first started three years ago when members of the chamber of trade were only able to raise £5 from the town’s businesses. It was a claim later denied but that time the damage had been done and Diss had become a national joke.

The next year the town raised £13,000 but organisers decided to start from scratch, bringing in a professional company and buying new lights – which meant only the Market Place and Mere Street could be covered.

Last year there were again murmurs of disapproval as organisers decided to “keep things simple” – which meant that the new display, again costing £13,000, consisted mostly of 50 small illuminated trees fixed on stores in the main shopping centre.

So this year planning started in January, with a new committee agreeing a three-year contract with Cascade Illuminations which would see £38,000-worth of lights put up in town this Christmas and the money repaid over three years.

At least that was the idea – the reality has been three strings of lights put up haphazardly in the market place for the December 2 switch-on, and empty promises to get more up by the week after.

Sub-contractors were in town this week to repair lights in the market place already damaged, and vowed to return on Monday to put more garlands up – but no one was holding their breath and the display looks just the same.

Cascade Illuminations sales director Kerry Whitaker has said the company will now give the lights already up in Diss this year to the town for free – but has not yet put these promises on paper and has become uncontactable.

Committee chairman Jackie Talbot said: “I am very disappointed and still hot under the collar as I do not like being let down, as I have worked so hard.

“The money I have collected is in the bank for next year, and the committee will be having a meeting at the end of January to decide the way forward.”

Diss is not the only town discussing legal action against Cascade Illuminations. Colchester is considering its options after parts of its display fell down on to crowded streets and officials in nearby Maldon have also been left disappointed with the quality of their display.

As for the Christmas tree – it was replaced with a larger one funded by the town council and erected by kind-hearted local charities. The lights were bought separately and Cascade Illuminations were not asked to put them up.

Some holiday lights just keep on glowing

Travis Johnson and his family know Christmas is over and that Thursday was the first day of February.

But last night, amid another snowstorm in Cheesman Park, it was obvious the Johnsons have not lost their holiday spirit. Their house has illuminated the quiet neighborhood with Christmas lights since Dec. 1.

Two reindeer are adorned with white lights as one mechanically bobs its head. Miniature Christmas and decorative trees line the lawn and either side of the house’s entranceway with red and white lights shining brightly.

The Johnsons aren’t so much carrying their holiday spirit over into February as they have been affected by the relentless snowfall, which has meant that their Christmas lights will remain lit.

Johnson said he had planned to remove the lights by the start of the National Western Stock Show.

“The extension cords are on the ground, and the snow is on the ground, and they’re frozen and covered,” Johnson, 35, said, explaining why he hasn’t been able to remove his lights.

“It’s just inconvenient.”

Johnson said he will get around to it next week – weather permitting.

“It’s not enjoyable being out and taking them out when it’s cold and snowing,” he said.

For other residents in Cheesman Park and the Country Club neighborhoods who are still lighting up their neighborhoods with festive lights, the reason is simple: They haven’t gotten around to removing them, they said.

But some homeowners just like the lights.

“We keep them on until early February,” Chris Citron said. “It gives us some brightness and color at a very dark time, and I enjoy them. We just like keeping them on for a while.”

Lighting a fire for the love of lights

My Christmas lights campaign started early in December.

“Look, kids,” I’d say while driving the car from our day-care provider’s house or on the way home from school.

“There are Santa and Rudolph!” Or, “Aren’t those lights preettttty??”

My kids are typical suburban kids who put in a lot of riding-in-the-car time. They’ve figured out their own ways to pass the time.

“Yeah, sure,” my 4-year-old would say, in a dismissive tone learned from some teenagers she knows.

“Mom, I’m doing something,” her sister would say from her side of the back seat. “Something” might be sounding out words in a new library book or eating the rest of the day’s lunch.

“You’re missing the season!” I would tell them.

“Huh?” they’d reply.

In an exasperated voice, I told them to look at the brilliant, multi-colored display in front of us, actually stopping the car in full view of its glory.

“When you were little, you used to love Christmas lights,” I told my almost-7-year-old, Julianna. “You begged me to see ‘Kissmas yites.’ ”

“Kissmas yites,” Ella said, savoring the term and putting it away for future use.

Every day, on the way home in the dark, I’d find a different light display and point it out. Soon, Ella was on board with me, but perhaps for the wrong reasons.

“Kissmas yites!” she’d say, with a sideways glance at her glowering sister.

Every day I’d veer off of our normal path, looking for lights we hadn’t seen before. We wound our way among MSU’s high-rise residence halls, with lighted packages and snowmen high above. We tooled down Michigan Avenue, looking for Santa and his reindeer atop Sparrow Hospital, and stopping at the light at Capitol and Michigan to admire the state tree. We drove blocks out of our way in our East Lansing neighborhood to chase a red-and-green glow.

Slowly, I began to win them over. They turned their eyes outward instead of inward. They started telling me where to look.

The piece de resistance was Roberts Street. We were eastbound on Mt. Hope Avenue between Cedar and Pennsylvania when one of the girls, looking south, shouted “Turn!”

The street full of cute little bungalows was nearly as bright as day with glowing inflatable figures, illuminated candy canes and hundreds of yards of lights covering porches and houses on both sides of the street.

“Stop!” shouted Julianna in front of one particular home. “Look!”

The wire-frame, lighted deer in the yard weren’t simply standing still. Two moved their heads from side to side, and one appeared to graze on the lawn.

“That’s so cool,” Julianna said. “Can we come back sometime?”

“Sure,” I said. “Anytime.” And I drove happily eastward, knowing they’ll appreciate “Kissmas yites” for the rest of the season and years to come.

Cold weather causes delay in boxing up Christmas lights

Chances are good, there are still a few Christmas lights up in your neighborhood.

“(It’s a) tradition, everyone does it,” said resident Duncan Macleod, “kind of livens up the block instead of just a dark block.”

With the cold weather the metro area has seen this winter the rules do seem to be out the window.

Many Homeowners’ Associations are relaxing their covenants about the lights and for residents. Rules or not, residents say they are not taking them down until the snow melts.

Highlands’ Ranch typically wants residents to have their lights down within 30 days of the holiday. Now people are encouraged to wait, and not get injured.

A drive through any neighborhood in the metro area reveals Christmas lights or decorations on homes.

“Once the snow comes down a little bit, we have a nice warm spell, the boxes are ready to go,” said George Sfirri, a Denver resident.

Some Denver residents say it’s their tradition to leave the lights up through the National Western Stock Show.

“As long as all this snow is here, it kind of seems like it fits,” said Denver’s Missy Ellis. “They can see the lights and it looks festive and looks happy.”

However, even Ellis agrees, this year, the tradition is going on for a bit too long.

“We’ll turn them off when everybody else turns theirs off too,” said Ellis.

Christmas never ends in Aspen

The twinkling lights on Aspen’s Red Mountain, along with the wreaths, lights and garlands strewn through downtown Aspen might have a visitor thinking it’s Christmas Eve instead of February.

Some locals maintain that Aspen is a Christmas town all winter, but others have had enough of decorations and lights.

“Typically we take the holiday lights on the Main Street area down in late January, and then we’ll take the lights down in the commercial core in late February or the beginning of March,” said Stephen Ellsperman, the city’s parks and open space director. But the timing varies with weather and events in the city.

“We try to get through most of the major events in the downtown” with the lights on, Ellsperman said, adding he isn’t aware of any law that says homeowners must take down lights.

Mayor Helen Klanderud said she believes the plastic garlands and decoration stay up later for the Winter X Games and other events.

“I don’t mind them,” Klanderud said. “But there comes a point.”

Steve Purso, a bartender at Little Annie’s Eating House, said the lights transcend the holiday season.

“I like the lights in town,” Purso said. “They’re winter lights, they’re not Christmas lights.”

“They keep the lights up so drunk people don’t fall,” added Sara Beth Trogdon, a Little Annie’s customer visiting from Denver.

“No, they leave the lights up so drunks can see that they’ve already fallen,” Purso quipped.

“This isn’t the real world,” added Pat Deskin, another Little Annie’s employee. “It’s a winter wonderland.”

Michael Daniels, owner of Daniel’s Antiques on the Cooper Street mall, who keeps his decorations up until mid-February, said: “I know some people take them down right away. But Aspen, it’s still cold and snowy. … It’s a Christmas world.”

Others have had enough. Jennifer Blocker, a saleswoman at Paris Underground, took a warm, sunny Saturday to take down the wreaths and garlands from out in front of the shop as they were turning brown and losing their needles.

“I feel like it wasn’t looking fresh,” she said. “It reached the end of its time.”

The bear on the roof of the Hickory House still wears a wreath, the eaves sag with garlands and lights and stick-figure reindeer adorn the porch, but Brian Jack, the restaurant’s general manager, said it’s time they come down.

“Everyone who comes to town is so used to it, they kind of block it out,” Jack said. “I want it down personally. I’m tired of it.”

But Jack said his decorator won’t take the decorations down unless it’s warmer than 30 degrees.

“Hopefully we’ll have it down by March,” he said.