The classic holiday light tree that overlooks Kingman radiates more brilliantly and efficiently with new bulbs strung by UniSource line crews last month.

To prepare for the annual illumination by Thanksgiving night, UniSource employees installed new wires and LEDs that make up the body of the 70-foot tree atop Radar Hill. The following day on Nov. 24, UniSource volunteers hosted a table to make ornaments at a celebratory event to mark the tree lighting.

“The tree is of great importance to local residents and they’ve come to expect the lighting by Thanksgiving to kick off the season,” said Penny Lyons, Community Customer Affairs Representative. “We’re pleased to do our part to carry on this longstanding tradition in our community.”

Radar Hill and the tree have a long history in the community. The hill’s name dates back to the Cold War when radar towers were installed there, according to a story in the Kingman Daily Miner.

The local energy provider – UniSource purchased the systems from Citizens Utilities in 2003 – has been involved with the holiday tree since its inception in the 1980s. In 1987, a fundraising effort was initiated to purchase and commence the tree.

Citizens installed the structure, made of a repurposed, wooden transmission pole with wires attached to the top that fan out to resemble a 50-foot diameter tree. The Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce has paid for the power usage.

Initially, the tree was about 55-feet tall. But after the structure was vandalized in 1991, the larger, repurposed 70-foot pole was added. Also, in 1996, an electric torch was added to the top of the tree.

After UniSource took over for Citizens, our employees continued to replace and fix the lights and structure, updating between 30 and 50 bulbs per season. A few years ago, a timer was added to a UniSource electric meter to regulate the illumination. A star now sits on top.

Over the past year, community organizations and businesses have collaborated on upgrades needed for function and efficiency. When UniSource was approached last year about the work, Lyons did research and partnered with local businesses and organizations for the project.

Arizona Sommers Cooling and Heating, owned by Don Sommers, paid for the wiring upgrades needed to support the LEDs, along with extension cords and the rewiring of the star.

UniSource line crews used a 125-foot bucket truck to reach the highest parts of the tree to upgrade the lights and infrastructure. In all, about 400 new 1-watt bulbs were installed, replacing 13-watt compact fluorescent bulbs. This will save more than 43,000 kilowatt hours of energy each year.

While the nightly lights will conclude on Jan. 1, the tree structure stays up year-round. A gate at the bottom of the hill is locked and a barbed wire fence surrounds the property, owned by Wecom Inc.

“The new lights look so beautiful over Kingman. We’re so happy that we were able to contribute to this project,” Lyons said.

Here are other ways that UniSource got into the holiday spirit:

Santa Cruz County: Our Nogales office purchased 32 boxed  Thanksgiving dinners that were delivered to local elementary schools in Nogales Unified School District. In addition, employees collected food for the Santa Cruz County Senior Center and toys through Toys for Tots. Volunteers also helped the Lions Club provide a shopping spree for local children.

Verde Valley: A UniSource crew truck and trailer was decorated by employees who also handed out candy along the route at the Parade of Lights in Camp Verde on Dec. 9.

Show Low: The UniSource office sponsored Santa at the Shoppes to spread holiday cheer and assisted with the holiday turkey drive for the White Mountain Community Center.

Flagstaff: UniSource sponsored Candy Cane Lane, a drive-through light display that supports the Shadows Foundation.

Mohave County: Employees are collecting toys for the Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots drive for Kingman and Lake Havasu City.

Prescott: On Dec. 21, employees plan to help serve meals and pass out gifts at the Agape House of Prescott.

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