Holiday lights going up around Clanton

Jeremy Morris, city employee, using a bucket lift to put ornaments on the Christmas tree in Corner Park on Nov. 9.(Photo by Steven Calhoun)

Jeremy Morris, city employee, using a bucket lift to put ornaments on the Christmas tree in Corner Park on Nov. 9.(Photo by Steven Calhoun)

By STEVEN CALHOUN/Staff Writer

Holiday decorations have started appearing all over town.

This means the yearly tradition of decorating the town with lights in the shapes of snowflakes, stockings, wreaths and other holiday figures has begun.

The city of Clanton has been doing this for many years now. City council member Mary Mell Smith remembers the city putting up lights since at least 2000 when she joined the council, and said the city has added to the collection every year since.

According to Dale Collins, the city shop director, there are approximately 125 hanging decorations, seven ground decorations, many wreaths and garland strands and the big tree at Corner Park.

He said the city has to start the last week of October putting the lights up.

“It takes us to Thanksgiving to get everything in place most of the time,” said Collins. “It’s quite a process.”

Collins said the lights turn on the day after Thanksgiving and turn off Jan 1. The city is billed by how many bulbs they have and how long they run instead of a metered billing.

He addressed a question many have asked him over his 24 years with the city:

“A lot of people wonder why we skip so far between poles. That’s because we can’t hook an electrical outlet to [every pole] so we can plug [lights] up,” said Collins. “We’d like to do them a lot closer, but we just do the connecting part of it … then we call [Alabama Power] and they tie us in with the power.”

Collins said every year during the seasons when the lights aren’t up, workers will use rainy days or down time to perform maintenance on the Christmas lights.

“We have a shop that’s full of these decorations and we go through a process,” said Collins. “We’ll put everybody to work up there on the Christmas lights … A lot of people don’t realize that it’s a lot of work.”

Workers have to replace the bulbs and repair sockets and wiring after the elements take their toll on the lights every year. Their hard work makes it possible to reuse the lights and have them look nice.

Collins said this year the city is adding four Christmas trees to the intersection of US 31 and Highway 22. They will put one tree on each corner.

“We’re proud of our new intersection so we want to decorate it, just like we’re proud of the hospital and proud of the school,” said Collins. “We’re proud of everything we’ve got here … We just want to make it so you can take your kids out and look and enjoy the lights.”

The City of Clanton will hold its annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 1 at 6 p.m. at Corner Park, located at the intersection of 2nd Avenue and 6th Street North.