Bringing the holidays to life

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 5, 2013

Ken Townsend uses zip ties to attach the lighted rope to the frame.

Ken Townsend uses zip ties to attach the lighted rope to the frame.

‘Twas the week leading up to the Christmas parade, and the city staff was in such a rush,

The installation of all those holiday lights, you see, was a mayor-decreed must;

From River Falls Street to the lot of Winn-Dixie, from the Court Square and everywhere in between, there isn’t an unadorned lamppost to see – all because of the hard work of a staff of four plus three.

Santa’s helpers, also known as the crew of the Andalusia Parks and Rec Department, have been hard at it for weeks putting the Christmas touches around town.

Even as late as Wednesday night, the men were decking out the Court Square in preparation for tonight’s events. Live music will begin at 5 p.m. The tree lighting will begin at 6:15 p.m. and the parade will roll at 7 p.m.

The first snowflake – lighted, that is, arrived in Andalusia 13 years ago. Now, there are nearly 300 of them. But, what people may not realize is how much work it takes to make Andalusia so pretty.

“It’s finger-numbing, actually,” said Harvey Peacock jokingly. “It takes us two days to put up all the snowflakes. Then, anytime one has a light out, we have to take it down and fix it.”

Installation of the snowflakes took two days, each beginning at 3 a.m.

On Wednesday, Peacock and his six man crew – Charles Hunter, Ken Townsend, Benjie Phillips, Waverly Flowers, Tommy Horton, William Barnes and Chester Norris – were still making necessary repairs to the snowflakes. Just before Thanksgiving, the crew also worked to relight the large wreaths on city hall, installing some 800 new lights.

“Those look better than ever, too,” Peacock said.

Today, the crew will make the necessary changes to the Court Square by setting up the stage and sound system. It will probably be a 15-hour workday for the men, they agreed.

“After the parade, we’ve got to come back and clean the streets,” Peacock said. “It sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but we have fun, cuttin’ up.”

So, is it beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the crew’s homes?

“No, we can’t do anything – our fingers are numb,” they said.