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They make Williamsport's holidays brighter

December 21, 1998

Editor's note: For these 12 days before Christmas, we will be recognizing individuals or groups who make the holidays better for others. This is the ninth in the series.

Les Guessford and Jeff LongBy JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




WILLIAMSPORT - When Les Guessford and Jeff Long were growing up in Williamsport, there were no fancy Christmas lights adorning the town park.

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Long, 36, of Williamsport, said his family would go to Hagerstown City Park every holiday season to see its decorations.

For about six years, town residents have been able to enjoy Christmas lights in Byron Memorial Park, due in part to the voluntary services of Guessford and Long.

Both are town employees, but they spend 30 to 40 hours of their own time helping to put up the Christmas decorations each year.

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That's "sheer dedication," Mayor John Slayman said.

"If this is all done and I see one person, one child, that's getting a little enjoyment out of it, it's all worth it," said Long, Williamsport's town supervisor.

Guessford, 34, of Halfway, will get to see his son's face light up this year when he takes him to see the decorations. Since Mark Guessford just turned 5 years old, this will be the first year the decorations will really register with him, his father said.

"For a small community like this, this is one of the biggest Christmas displays around," Long said.

The light displays in the park include tin soldiers, a train set, snowmen and, new this year, a horse and carriage, Long said. The horse and carriage cost about $2,500.

It takes Long, Guessford and six town employees about a week just to put up the lights at the park. That includes setting up the display frames, installing thousands of light bulbs and wiring them so the breakers don't trip, Long said.

The group also decorates Town Hall and the town's streets, he said.

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