Setting up a big display can be very time consuming to say the least. The set up is less than 30.000 lights but it still takes time to lay things out. We start on Thankgiving Day and continue on during weekday evenings and weekend days until December 18th. Of course this isn't done continuously, there are breaks in the action to get other things done. Total man hours to erect everything is probably around 100 hours, but then again, keep in mind that I am not in a rush here.
The night before Thanksgiving the trailer is parked by the barn door and loaded with all the decorations that are stored in the old hay loft. In the morning it is parked in the driveway near the house so it is closer to where the display will be set up. We normally try to get the icicles and other lights on the roof so the house is lit that evening.
The stakes for the drive way candles and wood candy canes are usually put in the ground that day also. The stakes are 40" long pieces of 1/2" re-bar driven into the ground. This gives plenty of stability to hold the decorations in place.
The re-bars are spaced seven feet apart and the candles and candy canes are placed on. The are alternated using a candle-candy cane-candle-etc layout. The seven foot spacing allows for each lit candle to be 14 feet apart allowing for the use of fifteen foot extension cords. The candles/candy canes are then draped with chaser lights which give off a nice twinkle all the way down the circle drive.
We set on a large corner lot and our driveway is about 350' long and comes in off one road and exits onto the intersecting road. This part of the set up can take quite a bit of time. The chasers are about 42' long and at the end of each run we leave an eight foot space. Each space is then filled in with a five foot indoor tree with 200 lights attached.
The lights in the maple, pine and oak trees are normally done before any other ground decorations are put up. This prevents hazards from tripping as I walk around the tree with eyes skyward watching the trees. I use a 23' painters pole that I modified by putting a hook on the end. With it fully extended I can get these lights 25-30 feet off the ground. I can no longer reach the tops of the maple and oak but the pine has a few more years before I have to decide how to reach its stop.
From this point on there is no set schedule for what goes up or when. As time permits I put up whatever I get my hands on. Much of this is done in the evenings when I can see the dark spots and fill them in. We have about twenty six and seven foot pre-lit indoor trees that are set on re-bar. These go up quick and can easily be done after dark. Anything that requires measuring or climbing is generally done during the day light hours.
The eight foot star on the barn is probably the most strenuous. To put this in place a rope is tossed out each of the
two hayloft windows. They are attached to two connectors on the star. My daughter and I then begin to hoist the star
up the side of the barn. Because of the weight we have to pull one side up a few feet, then pull the other side. We alternate sides until it is to the windows. My wife is on the ground outside to let us know when it is level with the windows. Once in place the bottom is about fifteen feet off the ground. The star is made from five 8' 2x4s and uses 300 lights to illuminate it.
To be continued...