Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ojai’s Light Brigade

Help of Ojai’s dynamic duo electrify the ‘Y’ tree

By Sondra Murphy

Ojai Valley residents get a boost of cheer each holiday season when they see the “Peace on Earth” sign lit up next to the holiday tree at Maricopa Highway and Ojai Avenue.
Help of Ojai will light the holiday tree at the “Y” shopping center today. This year’s lighting ceremony includes entertainment by the Ojai Community Choir Youth Ensemble and Ojai Acapella Choir, directed by Candace Delbo.
The tree-lighting event has developed over the years into an honored ritual through the efforts of volunteers and coordi-nation by Marvin Hanson and Tom Jamison. Preparation for the big night is a lengthy process that Jamison and Hanson have perfected. “Marv and I have been doing this for about 100 years,” said Jamison, but also estimated seven years. “We were both on the board of directors with Help of Ojai and both of us served on the Building and Grounds Committee.”
“Help asked us to do the decorating and we said yes,” said Hanson.
The tree’s lights were originally connected to the shopping center’s parking lot electrical system, but were later wired independently. “It didn’t have many lights at the time and a lot of Christmas ornaments,” said Jamison. “When someone wanted to memorialize someone who died, they would put up an ornament for them.”
The pair experimented with different decor each year and gradually added lights. “I’d estimate we put 10,000 lights on that tree a few years ago,” Jamison said. “We made a star out of metal and tied it to the tree and that came out great. Vertical lights didn’t work too well and one year we took some white cotton-type material that looked like snow. That didn’t work too well. When the rains hit it, it looked terrible.”
Barry Carlos and family have volunteered many times to decorate the tree and made the metal star, which is about 6 feet in diameter. “It’s pretty significant in size and has stayed up there for five years, now,” said Hanson.
As more lights were added, the men discovered it drew too much power. “The lights started blowing out in the stores, so that didn’t work out either,” said Jamison. “Then Help hooked up directly to an Edison meter behind Attitude Adjustment. It takes an act of congress to do that. Then we bored underneath the parking lot and created a junction box by the tree.”
“The property owner, Dean Vadnais, was willing to give us the power, but it just took too much energy,” added Hanson. “Just to run electricity out here cost about $4,000.”
Jamison credits Denise Reams with the idea of establishing a separate electrical source for the tree. “We got a special rate for the power, it’s on standby in the summer, so it costs about $200 a month to run the lights,” said Jamison. “Our annual donations for this are about $1,500. Thanks to the contributions of the community, Help can continue to do it.”
Hanson and Jamison leave the lights up year round and then replace bulbs as each December nears. Low voltage lights are used near the bottom of the tree.
They have been working on preparations for this year’s lighting ceremony for a couple of months. “Help of Ojai really does it for the community,” said Jamison of their labor of love.
“We have six main circuits that go up the tree, then two for the signs,” Jamison said. “The star alone takes one and all of that needs to be regulated so you don’t overload the system.”
Jamison added that the lighting is now set on a timer to run 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. each night. The pair planned to give it a test run before tonight. “If all goes well, the tree should light up at 5 p.m. on the dot,” said Jamison. “If it doesn’t, Marv and I are going to take off.”
The lighting ceremony is set to begin at 4 p.m. Refreshments will be served.
For more information, contact Help of Ojai at 646-5122.


Anonymous said...

Gee, how does Dean feel about being referred to as Dead.......oops

OVN administrator said...

Oops. Our mistake. Our apologies and thanks for catching it. It has been corrected.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the ACLU can butt their noses into this while they're meeting with the jerk ferchenshite.

evan austin said...

i can't help but wonder about the VERY prominent Nativity scene that accompanies the "Peace On Earth" sign and the lit tree. i'm told that Help provides that as well, and yet nobody talks about a Christian bent to their work, or whether it might be more in keeping with the season to have all other winter holy-days represented as well. either that, or none at all.

Jesus is not the only way to Peace, as the display at the Y heavily implies.

Anonymous said...

The lawn at the Y is private property. If the people who own that property want to express their religious beliefs there, or allow others to express their beliefs there for all to see, they have at least as much right to do so as "Earth Friend" Gen has to show off her boobs on public property and harass churchgoers on private property.

If you want to use another piece of private property in to display and espouse your beliefs, I guess all you need to do is find a willing sponsor.

Anonymous said...

Farrakhan Exposes Bankers and Americas Hidden Agenda Part 2

Anonymous said...

If they are not telling you to put something up in your lawn?
Why are you wanting to take down something in theirs?