Draper City warmly welcomed the holidays with its annual Tree Lighting Ceremony Dec. 1 in the city park. Hundreds gathered to watch as Draper Mayor Troy Walker led the festivities and the park was illuminated with over 1 million Christmas lights.
Draper’s first tree lighting was held in 2008, and since then, the visual display has continued to expand, with more lights being added and even more visitors coming from all over the valley to see the showcase throughout the month of December. It’s become an expected tradition of sorts, but what goes into making this beautiful display of colors possible?
According to Draper Park Superintendent Steve Linde, it requires long hours and teamwork.
“It’s a lot of work for a lot of people,” Linde said. “We start planning for it in June and have all of our park staff working on it, Monday through Friday, starting in November.”
With over 1 million lights used this year to festively decorate trees in the Draper Historical Park, light posts around city hall and nearly 20 trees and the bridge in Draper City Park, the job of wrapping and unwrapping the lights is a big one. The huge willow tree on the south side of the park has more than 300,000 lights alone.
“We have a couple of lighting contractors helping us with the big trees,” Linde said. “There’s just no way our staff could do all of it.”
After meticulously winding lights around every branch to ensure they can hold up to weather conditions, Draper’s park staff, with the help of local lighting contractors Brite Nites and The Lighting Edge, possibly have a few days to enjoy the display before it all has to come down again in January.
“We unravel the lights and roll them like a ball of string,” Linde said. “We end up with cases and cases of lights that we carefully label and store in a barn.”
With more lights being added each year, not only has the prospect of getting the job completed in time been a top concern, but providing electricity for the display has also become a complicated issue as well.
“We have a lot more trees we can add, but the trouble is the electricity,” Linde said. “Right now, most of it is underground. Everything is plugged into ground fault circuit interrupters that instantly turn off the power if rain or snow melt gets into the circuit. The system then has to dry out and be reset. We spend every day making adjustments.”
No question this job is a big undertaking, involving many hours by city staffers, but what does all of this cost?
“For what the city gets, it can cost anywhere between $40,000 and $60,000 a year,” Linde said. “The newer LED lights last longer, so this year we are spending a lot less.”