Wykoff gets new look for holidays

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Wykoff's new Christmas lights brighten up the business block.
By : 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Welcome to Wykoff:  Home of the safer snowflakes.

“The old lights were difficult to install, and we had no safe way to put them up, but the new lights clip into our flag holders, which makes it much easier to install them,” remarked Wykoff city clerk Becky Schmidt, referring to the new model of snowflake Christmas lights to replace the lighted snowflakes that used to halo the downtown lamppost globes in Wykoff. The new ones went up last Wednesday, a fresh layer of festiveness just in time for the Thanksgiving and Advent season.

Schmidt had heard tales about how tricky it had been for city maintenance crew workers — including Mayor Al Williams, who served as Wykoff’s city maintenance foreman for years — to deck the town’s main street, Gold Street, with the vintage lights. The fixtures needed new bulbs and wiring that was hard to obtain on short notice and a tall hoist truck to level the worker doing the installation at the right height. Those stories prompted some some mid-spring catalog surfing, which led to shopping for new snowflakes. 

“We get so many catalogs, and I was just searching through them and picked a few samples to present to the council,” said Schmidt. “I chose to show them snowflakes because they are uniform and they can stay up a little longer, unlike Christmas trees or candy canes.  Also, the price was right.”     

The clerk brought her find to the City Council’s attention early enough that it could be part of the annual budget conversation.  The lights were discussed at the annual budget meeting and the council passed the motion at the October regular meeting.  At that time, they were on sale, noted Schmidt, so the cost was quite a bit less than discussed at the initial budget meeting. 

“The biggest decision in buying the new lights was the safety of our city workers because we did not have the proper equipment to lift them up to install the old lights, but these can be installed like we install our flags, from the back of a pickup,” said Schmidt. “We originally ordered 14, but then we realized there were two more poles with electrical hookups, so we ordered two more.  They were shipped in about two weeks ago.  We were a few short, of course, and had to order a couple more, so those have yet to arrive.  Hopefully, we can sell the old ones and recoup some of the expense of the new lights. The old ones are in pretty good shape.” 

Schmidt was excited but nervous when the boxes of new snowflakes arrived. They were very well-made, she said, but the nervousness came from the fear that they might be too big and overhang the road too much. The new lights hang on the sides of the poles instead of on top. However, the mayor and city maintenance worker John Apenhorst unpacked one and hung it up so they could see if they would work.  “It looked great,” said Schmidt. 

Furthermore, the new snowflakes are environmentally friendlier than their older counterparts.  The new ones are LED, and “they will make the downtown glow,” noted Schmidt. “They are more universal and can stay up a little longer than traditional Christmas lights, and the added savings in energy consumption is a bonus.”