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Wilsonville city maintenance worker Ralph Thorpe develops new concept for lighting up the Christmas season

The sight of green and red lights garnishing trees can evoke a warm, nostalgic feeling and remind fans of Christmas gifts, family and the holiday spirit.

For many years, the city of Wilsonville had utilized this universal holiday symbol by wrapping lights around trees along Wilsonville Road.BY JAIME VALDEZ -- WILSONVILLE SPOKESMAN - Newberg resident Ralph Thorpe built tree-shaped light structures featuring sign posts and more than 800 light bulbs for the city of Wilsonville.

But for aesthetic as well as practical reasons, the decorations have a new look this year, thanks to city maintenance worker Ralph Thorpe, a Newberg resident, and his colleagues — who built tree-shaped light structures featuring sign posts and more than 800 light bulbs.

"I think it adds a nice feeling to our community," Thorpe said. "I know a lot of people look forward to them."

Thorpe has worked as a Wilsonville city maintenance worker for more than 15 years and his daily tasks include removing potholes, fixing signs and cleaning up after accidents. He also has decorated Wilsonville's trees along Wilsonville Road during the holiday season for approximately 14 years and is the city's arborist.

In recent years, as trees have grown, climbing up ladders, navigating shrubbery and wrapping lights around tree branches has become increasingly dangerous. And according to Thorpe, viewing the holiday lighting has looked less aesthetically pleasing.

So, with the help of coworkers, Thorpe implemented the lights in a more sensible fashion.

"I wanted to come up with something that was safer, looked better and was quicker too," Thorpe said.

Thorpe's newfangled design took two days to complete. The city of Wilsonville paid for the labor and materials.

"The biggest reason I wanted to do it was because of safety concerns; working in the busy streets with ladders is never good and I just think it looks better," Thorpe said.

Now that the infrastructure is complete, Thorpe and company will only need to weave the holiday lights together to prepare for the holiday season in future years.

"The best thing is now once they're set up it will be easy to put them up next year. It should go pretty quick," Thorpe said.

In addition to the lights on Wilsonville Road, the Wilsonville Parks and Recreation Department put up lights in Wilsonville Town Center Park and facilities' staff puts up lights in public buildings.

Thorpe said if they hadn't come up with a new idea for lighting, they probably would have continued climbing up ladders and decorating trees in order to appease the citizenry.

"People really like their lights," Thorpe said.

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