LINDSBORG — Decorating nearly 50 trees on Lindsborg’s Main Street has become more of a job than a quick task for one Lindsborg resident.
Merle Larson has been decorating the trees for three years now, but gladly does it because Main Street is his front yard.
"I was at a meeting and they didn't know who was going to put up lights, so foolishly I said, 'OK, I'll do it," Larson laughed.
Decorating the trees on Main Street was a tradition through the years, but it fell to the wayside before Larson returned to his hometown in 2014.
"They've had lights in the trees for a number of years, but left it up to the merchants to light them up on their own. It kind of got done, but it kind of didn't. Most of the retailers here on Main Street were looking how to do this and they're running their business that takes up most of their time," Larson said. "They tried just wrapping just the trunks of the trees, that didn't seem to be what everyone wanted. They re-did the sidewalks and re-planted a number of the trees and outlets were put at every tree intentionally so someone could decorate them and so now I'm the guy that lights the trees."
Larson has a method to the madness of covering 47 trees with twinkling lights.
He first begins by preparing the thousands of strands and puts them in a shopping cart. Then, he starts his journey of working his way down Main Street. Larson starts this project in the beginning of October and takes about three weeks to prepare for the upcoming holiday events.
"Its sort of a hodgepodge to get organized with that number of lights. I have to first repair and replace bulbs and we have a special tester to do that. Then I have a pole with a 10-foot extension that helps me reach and guide the strings. I start at the top and start stringing them around the outline of the shape of the tree. It takes a lot of light strings," Larson said. "We start having our holiday events in November. Then they leave them up until after Valentine's Day for about three and a half months. You can't leave them up year-round, there's too much damage done and the trees will eventually tear them up as they grow."
Now that Larson is an experienced tree decorator, he knows each tree personally.
"They just get bigger every year, I can't walk down the street now. I know every one of the trees so in the summer time, I'm going, 'Oh my gosh, that tree has grown quite a bit,'" Larson laughed.
Although Larson may be retired, he is still active in the Lindsborg community. He manages the bar and bartends at Farley's Bar & Grill a few nights a week and recently bought a building on Main Street where he and his wife plan to live in the loft.
Larson may be a busy resident, but he plans to keep putting up the lights, although may seek out a little assistance in the future.
"I'm going to try to get more help and recruit others. The trees are getting bigger and takes more time and more effort. The trees I can reach, I do without a ladder and others I need help. The city has helped me with their bucket truck and another guy that had a bucket truck has helped me too. It becomes more of a challenge and takes more lights," Larson said.
Though this task may take weeks to finish, Larson said its worth it in the end.
"When you turn them on and they actually all come on that's the best part," Larson said.
Contact Brooke Haas by email at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.