It’s impossible to ride or walk around Easton and not get into the festive spirit when there are 200 metal Christmas trees, candy canes, and candles ornaments mounted on light poles throughout the town. These decorations are put up by Public Works (PW) (with a little bit of help from Easton Utilities) the Monday after Waterfowl Festival and taken down right after the New Year.
What is most surprising is that these are not only kept up by Easton’s own Public Works crew but also made by them. This is thanks in part to Mike Dickerson, Superintendent of Public Works, who grew up in the area and enjoyed the decorations as a child. Easton Utilities made them in 1966, and the town stopped using them in the 1980s. Instead, the town started using store-bought white lights and decorations. But people took notice. “A lot of us who were the traditionalists that lived here,” said Dickerson, “have the great fond memories of what this town used to look like.
In 2015, Dickerson came across a couple of 10-foot candles that were being discarded. His crew renovated and repainted them and hung them at the PW location. It’s a shame, he thought, that others can’t enjoy them as well. And that’s when he had an idea. He went to Robert Karge, then Town Manager, and Hugh Grunden, President, and CEO of Easton Utilities, and asked, “What do you think about us replicating some of these and using them around town.” Karge and Grunden enthusiastically agreed.
But Dickerson wasn’t done yet. He noticed the three 10-foot metal Christmas trees, also created by Easton Utilities in the 1950s, being put up annually at the pumping station on Route 50. He borrowed one and replicated those as well (although he had to adapt them to hang on streetlights that had been converted to colonial-style poles).
What he’s been able to create is a throwback to a time gone by: “We have replicated what was out there in the 70s. We have 2 ½ foot candles from the Amish market to Dover. We made the 2 ½ foot Christmas trees, and they’re all the way down Harrison. Then we made what we call mini candy canes that are also 2 ½ feet tall from the Christmas tree down to Washington St. Then the mayor asked us to add some more out Dover Road, so there are around eight or nine around there.” That’s, of course, in addition to the seven and 10-foot Christmas trees and candles throughout the town. Not to mention that they also help Easton Utilities decorate the large Christmas tree at Dover Road.
All these decorations require upkeep, particularly ensuring that the bulbs are not broken and working. “The week before the Christmas parade,” says Dickerson, “I send out my staff in a little bucket truck, and they replace all the bad bulbs. And then the week of Christmas, they’ll go out again.”
To say Dickerson is proud of PW’s accomplishment in this endeavor would be an understatement. When asked if he was aware if other towns made their own Christmas decorations, Dickerson said he wasn’t sure, but he’s proud to be known here as “the guy that’s in charge of the Christmas lights.”