On Monday evening, on a windswept hilltop above Roxburgh, eight firefighters made light work
After more than 60 years and moves from various locations across town, the Roxburgh Volunteer Fire Brigade has its annual installation of its Christmas lights above the town down pat.
With military-like precision the firefighters made short work of hoisting the strands of multicoloured bulbs to the top of a lone pole to eventually create the form of a tree.
“Traditionally, when we do this it’s cold,” firefighter Dave Weatherall said.
Sure enough, it was cold, but the brigade has had generations to practise the process of stringing lights on the pole on Power Board Hill on McNeish family-owned land across from the town on the east side of the Clutha River.
The strands of lights splay out from the pole, creating the “tree”, which, when lit, can be seen from Roxburgh and further in the Teviot Valley.
On Monday, neglecting to flick a single switch before the ripple control that controls Roxburgh’s street lights delayed the Roxburgh illuminations until the following night.
Brigade veteran Dave Pinder said the tradition of bringing a bit of festive cheer to Roxburgh and in a district largely bereft of public displays of Christmas spirit had begun “way before my time”.
More than 60 years ago the brigade had set up lights in a tree outside the town’s former chief post office (now Endemic Art Gallery) on the town’s main drag, Scotland St, he said.
When the tree was cut down and with the advent of television in New Zealand in the 1960s, the display moved to the site of the television repeater on the hills above the western side of the town.
“People said it created interference with their TV signal,” Mr Pinder said.
To appease the residents’ new-found affection for the “goggle box”, a new location was found and that is where it has stayed.
The display may be historic but, like its location, it has moved with the times with the original swaying pole replaced by a much sturdier version and the original incandescent light bulbs replaced with LED versions in the past decade.
Brigade member Daniel Prew said the event was something the brigade looked forward to every year.