Article written

  • on 20.12.2008
  • at 12:51 PM
  • by The Q

Avenue of Lights – Behind the Bulbs 0

The brightest nights in Quincy are definitely from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. That is when Wavering Moorman Park comes to life with millions of wonderful lights that add warmth to those cold winter evenings. Celebrating its 10th year, The Avenue of Lights Organization (AOL for short) never stops impressing its massive audience with new displays and interesting concepts during the holiday season. This past November, I had the chance to speak with two of the AOL founders, Bob Scott, and John Groves. They shared with me the nuts and bolts behind what makes this Quincy tradition a success every holiday season.

When September comes and Wavering Swimming pool closes up, The Avenue of Lights hauls in seven semitrailers filled with extension cords, paint, Santas, fence posts, reindeer, light bulbs and palm trees. John Groves explains, “The pool becomes our staging area, we get displays out, re-bulb, repair, and get them ready for the coming season. We replace maybe two-thousand to three-thousand light bulbs a year.”

The Avenue of Lights Organization utilizes the help of the Clayton Work Camp to get most of their manual labor done. “We couldn’t do it without these guys” Said Bob Scott, of Scottie’s Skateland, “They are a big help”. It takes a crew of about eight men two and a half days to set up the larger displays. “Last year we bought so many displays and did so many electrical upgrades. We’ve got one service up here that’s twelve-hundred amps. There are four or five of them that are drawing four hundred amps. It’s amazing all of the power cords and extra power boxes that we set out to plug everything in.”

The people that run the Avenue of Lights are dedicated individuals that are involved in every aspect of the project. Even on Thanksgiving Day, they show up to work on the lights, to get ready for the first night. The work never seems to stop for the AOL. John Groves explains, “On January 2nd we start to tear down. We put a lot of pressure on these guys to get things set up, so when we tear down we do it at a slower pace and get it done in a very orderly fashion. The trailers get packed very, very tightly. We will usually have everything put away somewhere around the end of February.”

So then the work begins for the next year. John goes on to say, “We start working on new concepts and ideas. One trailer will be loaded up with things to be re-worked re-conditioned. That’s what we do during the spring and the summer. People will then approach us and say, ‘hey how do we become a sponsor?’ And they give us ideas as to what they would like to see for their displays.”

About creating new displays, Bob Scott says, “Linda will draw a picture or we will take a picture out of a catalog, then we make a transparency, blow that up and put it on the wall, trace it on cardboard, then we take it down to the shop and start bending steel rods and welding them together and put it on a frame.” The final steps for AOL are painting and of course, putting on the lights. “It’s not something that’s done in one day.” Bob said.

Over the years the displays have gotten a lot more complicated according to Bob, “It use to be just a three piece display, we just had C7 bulbs, now we are switching to a lot of rope lights. This year you’re going to see some LED lights.” With so many lights of so many varieties, where does AOL keep them all? “We actually have seven semis full of displays and supplies. They are literally packed. When we’re done at the end of the year, you can’t even walk in them.”

As Bob puts it, “It gets to be a strain after a while, and you’re spending a month in the cold out here every day. But I get to drive through as many times as I want. And you know if I don’t have anything to do I’m driving through about every night!”

When the volunteers are given an idea for a display from a sponsor there is a long process that begins. First the idea is turned into an illustration, next the illustration is blown up by using a projector. Once the image is projected onto cardboard to the desired size, different metal rods are welded together to fit the pattern. After that the group gets together and attaches all of the lights. “We use a lot of guide wire and a lot of fence posts.” Bob said.

How did the Avenue of Lights get its start? Bob explains, “The whole idea started about ten years ago when the Ambassador Club was asked to raise more money for the Chamber of Commerce. And this was the idea that one of the ambassador members came up with. We rented the displays for the first three years and sold sponsorships.

So grab your family and come on down to the Avenue of Lights. The gates open at 6:00 pm and close at 9:00 pm. The cost is 7 dollars per car.

If you would like to sponsor a display at the Avenue of Lights please contact The Avenue of Lights at info@avenueoflights.com. Visit their website at www.avenueoflights.com

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