He’s not Santa, but for Jim Waters, Christmas is a year-round affair | PostIndependent.com

He’s not Santa, but for Jim Waters, Christmas is a year-round affair

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson Jim Waters stands near a spruce tree he recently strung with lights Thursday afternoon in Glenwood's Centennial Park. Waters and his company, Christmas Decor, have been stringing lights in the park for the past seven years.

Stringing up Christmas lights is Glenwood Springs resident Jim Waters’ passion – and it has been his job for more than a decade. Waters, 59, is the man behind all the Christmas lights adorning the trees in Centennial Park and the Grand Avenue Bridge, a project commissioned by the city of Glenwood Springs. As a franchisee of Christmas Decor, Waters is in the Christmas business all year long, maintaining, installing and removing Christmas lights, hanging wreaths, even arranging the decorations for weddings, parties and Halloween events. “It’s one of those businesses you have to pinch yourself and say, ‘I’m the luckiest guy in the world,’ because you get to make people’s dreams happen,” he said. Many Garfield County residents would like to have their homes decorated, he said, but a lot of them don’t know how. That’s where Christmas Decor comes in. Waters has been in the Christmas business for 13 years, including seven with Christmas Decor. It’s not quite a full-time gig, though. He also has a landscape maintenance business and a snowplowing business.

The lack of snow in recent years, though, has prompted Waters to try to get out of that business. Last winter, he said, he did a normal month’s worth of business in a whole season. Waters’ work for the city began four years ago, when he started with lights on just four trees. Now, he illuminates Centennial Park and the Grand Avenue Bridge with thousands of lights. Cindy Svatos, of the city parks department, said Waters helped the city get its Christmas lighting initiative off the ground. “He was, like, the best thing that ever happened to us,” she said. “He donates a tremendous amount of his business to pay for putting the lights up.”While watching Santos Muñiz, a Christmas Decor employee, diligently attach a string of lights to a blue spruce, Waters pointed to a ponderosa pine next to the Sunlight Mountain ski shop on Ninth Street, which had been decked out with 800 large lights. It took Muñiz a day to install the lights on the tree, which have to be removed in January. The blue spruce would be lit with about 8,000 smaller lights.

“He individually maps each one of those branches,” Waters said, adding that the trick to lighting a tree is to disperse the lights evenly. “It takes quite a bit of work.”And quite a bit of money, too. Waters said the lights cost the city about $20,000 to install, not including the $10,000 worth of labor Waters said he donates. Making the Glenwood residents’ Christmas dreams come true isn’t all smooth sailing, however. Vandalism can make the job frustrating. Lights on the Grand Avenue Bridge have already been damaged, he said. “We’ve got two sections of lights,” he said. “You can see where somebody pulled on the lights and broke them.”But despite some setbacks, Waters said the job is worth it.

Waters said he enjoys his job so much that he’d love to set aside his landscaping business and do Christmas lighting full time. “I love it. You hear people talk about you have to do what you love and love what you do,” he said. “I see Christmas all year long.”Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext. 520bmagill@postindependent.com

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