Power shortage dims Christmas displays


Herald Writer

If you’re planning a trip to Brier’s Timberland Park neighborhood to drive by the ornate Christmas light shows, you might be left in the dark.

The displays will be turned off two days a week in response to Friday’s calls for regional energy conservation.

Over the last four years, motorists have responded to the stunning annual light displays by donating $22,000 and 4 tons of food to local food banks.

Although the lights will now be turned out on Monday and Tuesday, those living in the double cul-de-sac hope visitors will respond to the need for conservation and seasonal giving by increasing donations to make up for the money that will be lost on the nights the lights are off.

Gwendine and Tom Norton begin preparing for the Christmas display, which now includes more than 10,000 lights, in October.

"I’m sure there are some people who may be critical of us using all this power," said neighborhood member Ron Griffin, who said he can’t even guess how many decorative lights he has on his property.

"We want to try to do the right thing, but still keep the Christmas sprit and raise this money," he added.

The lights will now be on from 5-10 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday and from 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The neighborhood is in the 3700 block of 228th Place SW in Brier.

Last year, motorists donated $7,000 and 2 tons of food, with contributions going to the Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace food banks. The neighborhood hopes to raise even more this year.

An unusually dry fall, a cold snap and greater regional demand for power led the governors of Washington and Oregon Friday to call for voluntary energy conservation.

Gov. Gary Locke asked state residents to wait until after 8 p.m., when evening energy demands begin to wane, to turn on their Christmas lights.

At the Snohomish County PUD, the message is not to turn off Christmas lights completely "but please look for times that mean the most to you," said spokeswoman Julee Cunningham, who also asked that lights be unplugged when they’re not on.

Representatives of the Evergreen Christmas Light Festival at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe could not be reached for comment Friday evening on whether they would take steps in response to the regional energy problems.

Officials with The Lights of Christmas, a holiday display on 10 acres featuring more than 750,000 lights at the Warm Beach Christian Camp and Conference Center near Stanwood, said there’s no plan to change this weekend’s schedule.

The group has been consulting with the PUD on the regional energy crunch.

"We will support and assist them the best way we can," said Lights of Christmas board director Patrick Patterson.

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