Hail took severe toll on holiday lights


Jason Plett of the Hillsboro Electrical Department adjusts one of the Christmas wreaths that were put in place along Hillsboro?s Main Street last week. Because they are stored indoors, the wreaths were protected from the ice and hail that battered the lights that outline the tops of downtown buildings.

The Grinch may have tried to steal Christmas in Hillsboro, but after two weeks of work, the lights and decorations along Main Street will shine brightly this holiday season.

Actually, the problem was weather-related, said Mike Duerksen, electrical and sewer superintendent.

The ice storm last December and the hail storm in the spring played havoc on almost 100 percent of the bulbs strung along the downtown business rooftops, he said.

?We had no idea the weather damaged the bulbs until we got to looking,? he said. ?Sometime during the summer we saw that most of the bulbs were busted out.?

Duerksen estimated almost 2,000 bulbs needed to be replaced and it wouldn?t be an easy job.

City crews working on the Christmas lights had to use needle-nose pliers to unscrew the broken bulbs, taking more time than it normally would.

Most years, even factoring in weather, Duerksen and other city employees, cannot remember replacing so many bulbs.

It?s been more than 15 years, Duerksen said, that he has seen so much damage to the bulbs.

?Most years,? he said, ?we usually hook up and turn on the lights?replacing some that are broke out.?

Despite all the bulb complications, Duerksen said the holiday lights will illuminate the city starting the day after Thanks?giving.

The lights and decorations will remain up until after the first of the year, he said.

Duerksen said that thanks to the good weather and being able to set aside a little more time to change out the damaged bulbs, the holiday season in Hillsboro will commence according to plan.

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