Village of Obetz workers create a special holiday display

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By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Photos courtesy of the village of Obetz
Ronnie Cupp working on adjusting the holiday lights.

Obetz elves will light up the night around the municipal complex with holiday figures crafted in their village workshop that are sure to delight the young and young at heart.

Leanna Moore welding together one of the holiday light displays.

“When COVID cases began rapidly rising this fall, Mayor Kirk realized that it was unlikely that we would be able to hold our traditional Christmas Kickoff,” said Obetz Village Administrator Rod Davission. “So, we started redesigning the event to accommodate for the pandemic—meaning little to no contact for those involved.”

Redesigning a time-honored tradition drew on the talents of village workers, who took their ideas from the drawing board to fabrication all in the pursuit of holiday wonder balanced by a watchful eye on the taxpayers’ dollars.

“Obetz has its own research and special projects division, the goal of which is to develop low cost infrastructure modifications to stretch the tax dollars with which we are entrusted,” said Davisson.

A core crew of two fabricators, a graphic artist, and a few light installers were involved in the project.

And what did those creative elves come up with? A collection of brightly lit, larger than life displays of holiday icons like Santa, presents, and an entourage of colorful friends that will line the driveway near the municipal complex off of Alum Creek Drive.

“While the costs of the displays vary, they range from $3,000 to $15,000 each,” said Davisson in describing commercially purchased products. “By building them in house, we will spend about $300 each—saving more than $100,000 so far. We have, thus far, built traditional holiday season icons. Next year, we will work on some novel displays once we have a solid base group.”

The largest challenge facing the design and fabrication team this year was the limited time they had to produce the figures. They plan to create 15 to 20 figures this year and to add to the total in the future.

While this is the first foray for village workers in building holiday images, Davisson said the process is a natural extension of the work they do related to infrastructure.

The figures are constructed of rebar that is bent and welded over a pattern produced by Obetz’s on-staff, graphic artist.

“The process begins with an idea,” said Davisson. “That idea is reduced to a template by the graphic designer. The template is laid out on a welding table jig. We heat and bend the rebar into shape and weld it together. Once the frame is complete, we paint it white for better reflectivity. Finally, we affix LED light strands and motion control boxes.”

Davisson hopes the displays create happy memories for the kids of Obetz and the surrounding area.

“We are excited that our work can maybe add a little joy to what otherwise has been a dumpster fire of a year for America,” said Davisson.

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