Feel the magic
You can do a lot of thinking when you are laying on your stomach in a snowbank.
I am one of the people who helps decorate the Medford City Park each year for the Holiday Magic on the Medford Riverwalk display.
This year the Kiwanis Club, Rotary Club, Holy Rosary Church, The Star News and AgCountry Farm Credit Services and others decorated portions of the Riverwalk with Christmas light displays. The project is supported by fundraisers from participating organizations, the city of Medford Hotel/Motel Room Tax fund, and donations from area businesses, individuals and foundations.
Last year, with the help of a number of donors we were able to have a larger that life size lighted curler sculpture in the park. This year The Star News added a 10-foot tall paperboy delivering a newspaper and Aspirus donated the funding for a 10-foot tall snowman that appears to tip over in the wind. We also added a number of elevated snowflakes which serve double duty of looking nice while allowing us anchor points to connect overhead cords from outlets on the city streetlights to trees on the banks of the Medford Millpond.
Each of these lighted displays are designed and built at the Heser MotorSports machine shop in downtown Medford with volunteers adding the lights and installing them in the park. Each piece represents more than 100 hours of work from coming up with the design to stringing the lights and tweaking the animation. The end result we hope is something pretty cool and unique to the community.
The goal is to keep adding these larger lighted sculpture items as centerpieces in the light display. There are some that are in the works including a representation of the Perkinstown Tubing Hill, a second large snowman from Aspirus and a larger than life-sized friendly polar bear. While they were not ready to go out this season, they will be making their debut next year. Meanwhile we are looking ahead to future years and considering other displays such as the possible replacement of the 12 Days of Christmas display with lighted sculpture and other displays that reflect the people and the community. The goal is to keep growing the displays and bringing some magic to the community during the darkest time of the year.
The limitations, as always, come with time and money. Thanks to the volunteer labor and working locally we are able to get the pieces done at less cost and have more durable construction than through commercially available displays.
Another limitation is the physical infrastructure in the city park and the electrical system there. The city is in the process of refurbishing the quarter-century-old decorative lights along the Riverwalk and adding outlets to them. While it would be nice to simply snap your fingers, or nod your head and have things magically done, the reality is that there are only so many hours in a day and there are often more pressing needs for the time and labor.
This gets me back to why I was laying on my stomach in a snowbank.
Even after the lights are put up and turned on, the work doesn’t stop for the year. Winter storms happen and this means that sometimes things get blown over or the weight of ice and snow works a plug or bulbs loose. Volunteers make a point of driving through the park and checking to make sure everything is in order. With this weekend’s snow and ice, a cord at the new snowman display came loose allowing moisture in and tripping the ground-fault circuit on the outlet box located under the pedestrian walking bridge. Did I mention that the circuit is only live after dark, meaning that the only way to make sure it is working is to do it at night.
Not having any trained monkeys or nimble teenagers around to access the box, I had the fun chore of laying in the snow and trying to guess how much was solid ground and how much was snowbank-covered steep riverbank.
Holiday Magic is just one of many community activities that relies on volunteers to make it possible. If you are interested in helping out, we could always use another set of hands.
Brian Wilson is News Editor at The Star News.