Thankfully, it takes dozens – of all ages and from all backgrounds. It certainly did this Saturday, when more than thirty people turned out to put up lights for the holidays at the Lopez Village Park and Ferry Landing. Every year, on the Friday after Thanksgiving, the Lopez Island community gathers in the Village Park to see the lights turned on for the first time – while listening to carolers, drinking hot beverages and warming up around fires. And every year, Becky Smith, the president of the Lopez Chamber, has to find volunteers to get those lights up. She’s never sure what kind of turnout she’ll get. This year was apparently the largest work party yet. We had kids from Lopez School, business owners from all over the Village, and other island residents – some of whom have been volunteering at this event for decades.
Getting the place decorated is no small task. Over the years, the Chamber has accumulated thousands of feet of lights. Plus, it takes a cherry picker to string lights up and down the 40-foot-tall water tower. Fortunately, Ken Bair showed up with Dwight Lewis’ bucket truck. Even then, Ken and I had a heck of a time figuring out just how to configure the lights in a way that let us connect them to electricity. Which brings me to my next point: documentation. All the diagrams for how to set up the lights currently reside inside Becky Smith’s head. So, we asked Christine Kerlin to document everything, with the hope that we won’t have to reinvent the wheel a year from now. Her resulting diagrams are pretty amazing.
After wrapping up at the park, the work party turned its attention to the ferry landing, which has the reputation for being the most festive ferry landing among all of the ferry terminals in the San Juans. The expansion of the Lopez landing earlier this year meant more lights and a new plan, but the decorating went pretty smoothly. We had all the lights and decorations up before the 3:50 ferry from Shaw Island arrived. It’s a beautiful sight. I just hope that passengers awaiting their ferries over the holidays don’t need to plug anything into the electrical outlets inside the shelter – they all have extension cords plugged into them.
This is the kind of thing that happens all the time on Lopez: somebody needs help, and the community rises to the occasion. If the lighting work party was this much fun, the lighting event after Thanksgiving is sure to be a success. Hope to see you there!