Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Park Cities’ holiday shine commands high-dollar installation industry
Trees alone can cost as much as $30,000 to light.
UNIVERSITY PARK It is 9:30 a.m. on a chilly November day, and Bruno Macias and his team from Park Cities Lights have barely begun to hang the Christmas lights on a large house on Armstrong Parkway. They have adorned almost every bush along the pathways surrounding the house and some of the trees in the yard. Balancing precariously on a tall ladder, a worker manages to hang another strand along the rooftop.
This is the busiest time of year for companies like Park Cities Christmas Lights that decorate houses in Highland Park, where residents go all out during the holiday season. This area has become famous in Dallas for the light displays put on by the residents each year, which is a tradition that has lasted for nearly 50 years.
The Highland Park lights not only attract onlookers but have also created a great business opportunity for light companies and other organizations during the holidays. However, such a fantastic light show does not come with a small price tag; some houses can cost thousands to decorate, and with the size of most of the properties in Highland Park, this is no small feat. The trees themselves can cost as much as $30,000 to light.
“You would be amazed at how much money is spent on just the lights,” Macias said. “We use thousands of lights just to cover the bushes and trees, and for these families it’s go big or go home.”
The price for installing Christmas lights is determined by how many lights are used, as well as the difficulty level of the design and installation.
Macias meets with the owners of each home at the start of the season to discuss the layout and design. Some customers will even coordinate their flashing lights to holiday music complete with moving reindeer and nativity scenes. The area with the biggest light displays is contained by the Dallas North Tollway to the east, Preston Road to the west, Mockingbird to the north and Armstrong Parkway to the south.
“It’s exactly like in the movies,” Tony Gonzalez, a light installer, said. “People don’t want to be showed up by other families on the street, so they try and out-do their neighbors.”
Macias said that many of the houses are left vacant during the holidays as Highland Park families travel to vacation outside of Dallas. That still doesn’t stop them from decorating their houses, and it’s not only families who compete during the holiday season. Many of the lighting companies working to attract customers must fight for attention in this big-selling neighborhood.
“A lot of times, you’ll see we have sign wars,” Macias said. “People will steal signs from some companies and write over them, or slash them or put them in trees — all to get more advertising.”
Another big lighting company in competition with Park Cities Lights is the Christmas Light Company Inc., owned by a friend of Macias, Bill Rathburn.
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