Friday, July 25, 2014

Oh, what a Tannenbaum!

February 19. 2013 9:12PM
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One might think John Grill, 57, is a little old to be climbing trees.

But every November for the past 15 years Grill has climbed the 60-foot pine in front of his Union Street home to festoon the branches with lights and top it with a star for the Christmas season.

In the early years he carried a five-foot star to the top of the tree. These days the star is 10-feet from point to point and he assembles it in the tree with plastic conduit pipe

In a typical year Grill would spend six or seven hours strapped in the tree with a pair of telescoping loppers decorating the branches with 3,800 lights and creating a Junction tradition which can be seen from a spot on Susquehanna Avenue in West Pittston and another in Coxton.

As if that weren't enough of a wow factor, this year Grill's lights dance and the points on the star spin to music.

To create this year's tree display, Grill spent more than double the usual time in the tree, adding more lights, so many he lost count. And unlike past years when the lights were just placed randomly, this year he placed strings of purple, blue, yellow, red and multi-colored lights in a specific order coming off vertical strings of white lights and added computerized light show set to music.

It's a static display most of the time, but at the bottom of each hour it comes alive. For about 15 minutes the lights are dancing to the music. We set up in the backyard in summer to see how the lights would work.

They work thanks to Grill's son, Jerry, who sequenced the lights to four Trans Siberian Orchestra songs with computer software and a series of controller boxes. The songs play through a low power FM transmitter. Synchronizing the songs took six hours each.

The 15-minute light show is up and running every night beginning at 4:30 and on every half hour until 9:30 on weekdays and until 10:30 on Friday and Saturday.

Grill who moved into the 85 Union Street home 25 years ago said Bob Breza, a landscaper who grew up in the home, told him his brother got the tree on Arbor Day when he was in elementary school and took it home and planted it.

Grill said using LED lights cuts power consumption. My Waterfall uses more power.

Grill said he worries about creating a traffic monster on Union Street, which has parking on both sides, but added, I have great neighbors. They put up with me.

Grill said it best way to approach the tree is by driving up Chapel Street and over Thistle to Union.

The tree will be lighted through Jan. 7, Russian Orthodox Christmas.

Grill said he plans to continue to light the tree into the future. When I get too old to climb the tree, maybe I'll rent a cherry picker. My idea for this worked out better than I envisioned. It feels good to do something totally different and make it work. Enjoy the show.

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