10 Country: Charles’ Christmas Lights - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

10 Country: Charles’ Christmas Lights

^ Charles Jones ^ Charles Jones

December 17, 2002

Sylvester-- Many people like to do various projects themselves. There’s even a TV network dedicated to doing-it-yourself. One town took the do-it-yourself movement to a higher level long before doing-it-yourself became cool.

In a metal building, you wouldn’t expect find an original Christmas decoration shop, but inside you will find one of Santa Claus’ best supporters, Charles Jones.

“We’re proud of it,”says Charles Jones, Water and Light Director for the City of Sylvester “We just got into it and it grew on us.”

The growth started in 1969 when Charles Jones wanted the City of Sylvester to look more festive during the holiday season, but like most towns, they couldn’t afford new Christmas decorations. “We had to find an alternate route so we decided that maybe we could build them ourselves,” says Jones.

Charles and his crew became most creative, a creativity that continues. “We try not to build four of the same design.” The City of Sylvester really cares about its special Christmas lights because it built a big metal building to house them 11 months out of the year. They have 195 decorations in their collection, built mostly on rainy days when the water, gas and light workers couldn’t work outside, saving about 30 to 40% of the cost of new decorations.

“Plus we add a little to it,” said Jones. More lights, more garland, in particular.

“Gets you in the Christmas spirit.” Says the city’s Michael Mills, as he tapes black and white electrical wires with light sockets to a metal frame. They used seven thousand bulbs this year, and rewired several old decorations .“If we were to get one back in the same place as last year, it would be an accident,” Jones said.

Something magical happened in the shop one day. “Most of the time I was a scrooge and grinch this time of year,” says Joe Bratcher, as he works on re-furbishing a lighted candle decoration. “Puts me in the mood for Christmas.”

Charles Jones stays in the Christmas mood in part because of a personal reason. “I was born on Christmas day and it’s kind of like celebrating my birthday,” Jones says.

He enlightened city officials with a gift of an idea of saying happy holidays by doing it themselves. Sylvester has become noted for its holiday decorations, to the point of getting numerous letters from people as far away as California complimenting the special lights built by the city workers.

posted at 9AM by dave.miller@walb.com

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