Bredenbury Lights Up

It all started in 1994 when retired Bredenbury resident Glenn Cowan put up a large Christmas display in his yard. He figured the rest of the street should do the same. Before anyone knew it, the entire town was covered in lavish light displays and huge Christmas ornaments.

We had a big snowman and a Santa Claus that were about 20 feet high. Everything was homemade. A welder put together huge displays, including a Ferris wheel that stood as high as 30 feet. Others made 7 ft. candy canes out of plywood. The only thing bought were the lights—hundreds of thousands of lights.

You could see it for miles. On a cloudy night, it just reflected up into the clouds. Every street in town had a particular theme to it. There was Jingle Bell Lane and the North Pole, that kind of thing.

The town eventually garnered a reputation for its Christmas displays. In 2001, 2002 and 2005 it won national awards for its population size in the Winter Lights Celebrations competitions.

Some years we had thousands of people drive through town. There would be, through the month of December, a steady stream of cars.

But 2005 would be the peak of the light show. Since then, the energy of volunteers has dwindled. Many of those volunteers have reached an age where they can’t do the heavy lifting required to put up the large displays. The festival’s founder has passed away. There aren’t as many people coming forward to take on the responsibilities of putting it all together and there aren’t as many vacant lots in the town of about 350 people to put up the displays. They all have new houses on them now.

Early in 2013, the lights committee voted to disband. It’s bittersweet. It’s always sad to see something like that end. But at the same time, you have to understand when it’s time to pull the plug on things.

We had a great run—19 years. What we can do is look back on the whole experience with a great deal of pride.