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Park's ornament display dazzles town residents

December 23, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

Editor's note: This is one in a series of stories running on the 12 days before Christmas to recognize people who make the holidays better for others.




shappell@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - For eight years, Jeff Long has been making sure that those who go to Byron Memorial Park in Williamsport to view the holiday lights have something to talk about.

Long, the town's street supervisor, once again coordinated efforts to decorate the park for the holiday, and many were wowed by what some said was the best display there ever.

For his part, Long talked about how many others make the dazzling ornament display possible.

Beyond the "Happy Holidays" greeting and the white bulb-lighted tree at the park entrance are illuminated items including snowmen, castles, candy canes, drums, various holiday characters and a carnival-type ride complete with handmade horses.

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"I used to look to make sure all the lights were on. Now, I pay attention first to the looks on people's face," said Long, a Williamsport native. "The way I look at it is, if one person really enjoys it, it's worth all the effort we put into it."

It would appear that more than one person enjoys the display. The park logs about 1,000 cars per day passing through, Long said.

Long takes little to no credit for organizing the display. He said it never could happen without the support and efforts of the mayor, the town council, local authorities and, especially, his five-member crew.

Long said Les Guessford, Dennis Black, Duane Kline, Randy French and Justin Hamilton are the unsung heroes who put it all together.

"I try to give them planning and different ideas, but as far as running the electricity and the physical work, they do 90 percent of it," he said. "I have the utmost confidence in them. They do an excellent job."

Long said he and the crew put in about 200 hours, some of which is off the clock, over about a month to prepare for the lighting ceremony.

It's a big job, but Long said he and his crew can handle it.

"We don't feel pressure, but we try to change things every year," Long said. "We like to do something new. We just really enjoy doing it."

The park's holiday decorations will be illuminated from 5:30 p.m. to 7 a.m. through Jan. 11.

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