SEKY December 2021 - Page 15

Santa and helpers are ready to welcome visitors to Christmas Island . l Photos by Christopher Harris
Wilson to create a soundtrack that will feature Christmas music , audio clips from your FavoriteChristmas movies , sponsor recognition , safety messages , and reminders to share their experience on social media . That soundtrack will be broadcast on 95.5FM around the Island for visitors to enjoy .
But that isn ’ t the only change people will notice from days gone by : Christmas Island has truly entered the 21st century .
“ It ’ s hard to compare this year ’ s Christmas Island versus the original Christmas Island ,” said Crabtree . “ We don ’ t count individual displays but rather look at how many total scenes we offer . The lighting we use is more LED rope lighting and not individual bulb-driven .
“ We ended up forming a partnership with Celebration Lighting to run the light scenes for us . They stepped up to the bid process with an impressive proposal ,” he added . “ Their research showed that the original Christmas Island had around 28 scenes and they proposed 48 different scenes including backlighting and landscape LED lighting . They had the manpower and expertise to make sure the lights were done well . Our team already has visions on how to use new technology and depending on this year ’ s success we will see those come to fruition sooner than later .”
Christmas Island has always partnered with local civic groups and non-profits to run the gate like years past , said Crabtree , and just like in the old days , visitors may see gate workers wearing Santa Hats , Jingle Bells , selling passes , and greeting families as they enter .
“ That experience will be similar but adapted to today ’ s time of managing risk ,” said Crabtree . “ If you look at an old picture from the ‘ 90s on Christmas Island , you won ’ t see reflective gear , traffic cones , flashlight traffic control , and some of the other safety requirements that might show up on Facebook .”
And Burnside Island isn ’ t the only place you ’ ll get a taste of Christmas Island . The City of Burnside has kept the memory alive by using some of the old light displays downtown over the years . But even that effort is getting an upgrade in 2021 .
“ As people approach Christmas Island they will see light displays down Main Street ,” said Crabtree . “ That is thanks to ( Pulaski County Jailer ) Anthony McCullom , ( deputy jailer ) Robbie Cox , other Correctional Officers , and a great inmate work program . They help us maintain and set up our light displays downtown .”
When Crabtree accepted the position of Executive Director of Tourism on June 3 , 2019 , he had several key initiatives he wanted to pursue and Christmas Island was one of them . He wanted to find out why it wasn ’ t still around , and talked with Lawson as well as Wynona Padgett and Melanie King of the Somerset Junior Women ’ s Club to get a handle on that holiday history . He walked away much more informed about the success , operations , improvements and ultimate fate of the original Christmas Island , and felt prepared to bring it back as a Christmas gift to his community .
“ Christmas Island has been a piece of our community since the early ‘ 90s ,” said Crabtree . “ It was around when I was a kid . I remember having fond memories going to it and driving through it — it was the anchor to our Christmas season . When I took this position in 2019 , it was on my top three or four projects I wanted to see come back to our community . I ’ ve been working on it since then . COVID-19 ( resulting in cancellation or postponement of events ) actually gave me more time to game plan to bring back Christmas Island .”
December 2021 SEKY - Life in Southeast Kentucky • 15