More than 80 members of IBEW Local 38 donated their time and talent to help decorate Cleveland Public Square for the holidays.
On Nov. 3, a dry and windy day with temperatures in the mid-40s, the Christmas spirit was in the air as 83 members of Local 38 decorated trees, then checked and installed other holiday lights.
Since at least the 1950s, members of Local 38 have volunteered time on late fall weekends to light up Cleveland for Christmas. This year, members hung an estimated 400,000 lights on one day, which comes out to roughly 4,800 lights strung by each volunteer.
Mike Muzic, IBEW Local 38 President, said his fellow Brothers and Sisters enjoy the volunteer project and the camaraderie it brings.
“I believe our membership wants to be a part of a tradition that not only citizens of Cleveland can enjoy, but also something they can share with their family and friends,” said Muzic. “They also like the camaraderie they experience with other members while installing the lights.”
While some members of the public may think exterior illumination of Christmas lights is all the same, members of Local 38 have to ensure the lights will stay on in potentially brutal weather conditions, while ensuring the safety of thousands who will come down to Public Square for the holidays.
Besides hanging lights, Local 38 members make sure all the stringers are taped at all the connection points, troubleshoot for other possible problems with the items that have been in storage since last winter and ensure all cords are safety plugged in to prevent any kind of tripping hazard.
Muzic said there are challenges with any volunteer project, including the lighting of Public Square. Members use 12-foot ladders, lifts and extension poles to install the lights, ensuring each tree looks good, but also have to battle the wind and other weather conditions, which can it difficult at times.
“With the heights of some of the trees at Public Square, it is always a challenge to make sure light coverage is equal on parts of the trees,” he said. “Sometimes dealing with the winds can be a real challenge also.”
Despite a heavy weekend workload, Local 38 members made time to continue their annual Christmas tradition.
“Believe it or not, even with the work in the Cleveland area being so busy, our members stepped up again to be a part of this great event,” said Muzic. “Our members are very busy with work, family and other events, so for them to volunteer and take time out for a Saturday in November is a huge thing. Our membership steps up every time they are asked to help out in any capacity.”