Albany icon lights up one last time - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany icon lights up one last time

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November 30, 2006

Albany -- Many of you look forward to a unique light display every Christmas. Santa Claus trades his sleigh and reindeer for a convertible. The display has been lighting up Christmas in Albany for 50 years. It's even gotten national recognition.

This year is your last chance to see it.

It's not your usual Christmas light display. Each bulb is a radio pilot bulb. The display includes thousands of the small bulbs, each one hand soldered by a man with a bright idea.

"I've enjoyed seeing the children enjoy it. Having none of my own at Christmas I feel like a have a thousand," said Walter Flint.

His Third Avenue home has been an icon of Christmas cheer in Albany for 50 years now, touching generations, and making memories for man who put all the care into each and every bulb.

"In 1971 the AJC covered it and I got mail from all over country," Flint recalled.

"1960 the first night I had Santa, I went to bed and woke up. He had been kidnapped."

The idea started in 1945 when Walter Flint was a soldier in the army stationed overseas. After many years it's grown to this elaborate display.

Flint says he and his army buddies stationed in India were homesick during Christmas, but his sergeant in the army wasn't helpful in his request to get Christmas lights for a tree.

"He just laughed in my face. So I laughed back in his face and ordered a thousand of these pilot bulbs, wired them to a wire, put them on a scruffy tree we found in New Dehli, and everyone loved it. I said if i ever have a house that is how I'm going to light it," said Flint.

And that's why Flint has lit up his home and people's holidays for the past 50 years.

Santa Claus and his convertible are sure to be remembered for many Christmas times to come, as he waves his final goodbye this year.

Flint says he can't get up and down the ladders as easily as he used to and says 50 years was good time to stop putting up the display. If you want to see the lights for yourself they're on from 6 to 10 p.m. at 615 West Third Avenue.

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