Lighters of the Square

Trish Long, facilities superintendent for the city of Georgetown, and her five great staff members have many duties, but one of their favorites is the Lighting of the Square. Trish gives View a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into this magical transformation.

How long does it take to get all the lights up?

The planning takes at least nine months, but the actual installation of the 255,000 lights takes about two weeks with a crew ranging from five to twelve people.

What’s involved?

Most of the work is done at night, and someone from the facilities team checks the lights several times at night while the work is being done. It’s easier to catch any issues or outages at night so the crew can make repairs.

But before they can do that . . .

Our electrician has to check all the electrical components, tree outlets, photo cells, and breakers. The city’s urban forester schedules the trees to be trimmed around the Square prior to the light installation.

The night before . . .

The facilities team comes down the night before Thanksgiving for a final check. We turn off all the building cornice lights, and the entire Square is dark. The Lighting of the Square involves coordinating lots of “switch flippers.” Ten or more people are placed at each breaker. They communicate with radios to “flip” the switches at the same time.

Is the lighting of the Square your most stressful work day?

Not so much the most stressful day as the most anticipated day. We work so long for it to go just right. I always worry. If a tree doesn’t light or a breaker doesn’t “flip,” or if that half of a tree trunk or canopy won’t light, it’s very noticeable! And the weather—you can never predict the weather!

Big shout-out to city council: Thanks for allowing the utility system to sponsor the lighting!

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