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The Santa Switch for City of Decatur

Santa needed our help! He was flying in to light the City of Decatur’s big new tree on the square and needed a super switch to make it happen. Our crazy creative community stepped up!

It started with brainstorming the design… What does it look like? What elements are are on it? How big should it be? We had lots of input and suggestions.

Once we picked a layout, George got the build going with layouts in 3D design software to prep it for our large CNC machine in the woodshop. At this point, we haggled over how many lights would be included and where we would put them. George added those to the software design so we wouldn’t need to do those by hand.

The equipment cut out and carved into the wood to create the detailed front art and matching rear piece that would ultimately fit together like a “switch taco.”

While some of us got to painting, Maureen and Bill got to coding; They had a vision of dancing lights in all the right places, not only on the sign but on the lever handle. Need. More. Lights. And each light was separately coded to create different and interesting sequences; Sometimes they faded from one color to another, sometimes they ran around quickly in red, and sometimes they just glowed the rainbow.

The lever was another design element needing input; How long would it be? Can we get a clear tube in time? How many lights would go inside? How would it trigger the different light sequences as Santa moved it?

Bill found the perfect 5 foot long clear tube in his basement (because, his basement is a maker’s treasure trove) and we purchased the triggering electronics parts. But how to diffuse the lights in the clear tube for the most optimal viewing? Maureen suggested adding Poly-fill around the lights inside the tube and it was magical! They also thought to make the long lever easily removable for better storage.

After a few bolts, screws, electrical tape, and good smattering of hot glue, the lights were in and the switch complete!

The tree lighting on the Square was musical, “snow-y”, and festive affair. When Santa walked up, the crowd hushed. After a few bits of Christmas Eve advice for the younger crowd, he pulled the switch and the tree lit. Ho Ho Ho-ly cow, the switch worked!

Huge thanks to Suzanne, George, Maureen and Bill for all their time, creative efforts, and sharing of their expertise to make this cool project for our wonderful partners at the City of Decatur who worked so closely with Santa!

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