The Mast-Head: Christmas Fights

I thought I would drive around a little and see the Christmas lights of the town

Just the other night, with nothing better to do, and nothing to interest me at the office, I thought I would drive around a little and see the Christmas lights of the town. I took my leave from friends who I had been visiting on Gould Street, and headed off for a turn around the pond, where a brightly lit tree blazed in the center.

Not all that long ago, East Hampton was greatly riled when an electrician overseeing the illumination of Main Street and Newtown Lane trees unilaterally chose to change the lights from multicolored to blue. A ferocious debate ensued, and the guilty electrician went to ground. Within a few Christmases, once the blue ones had been used up, the trees were set back to rights, at least in the majority view then.

New technology, cheap Chinese LEDs, and changing tastes would make a controversy such as the one concerning the blue lights of the late 1980s unlikely. Depending on one’s taste, almost any color scheme is possible. 

During my recent tour, I was particularly impressed with a tree at the Maidstone Hotel: white strings wound in the branches near the trunk of the tree but with dazzling fuchsia lights around the outer boughs. At the Whitmore’s garden shop in Amagansett, an otherwise bright red tree somehow sparkled white here and there.

Almost anything can be hung. Minimalist green strands rise to the top of a flagpole outside the Huntting Inn on Main Street like a signal to passing alien explorers. Swooping white lights converge on a gazebo at Groundworks Landscaping, druid-like.

The display drawing the most attention around here this Christmas can be seen at the Toilsome Road, Route 114 roundabout. In a small field sits a red tractor, attended by three Santa-hat-wearing half-size plastic human skeletons bedazzled with festive garlands. That no one to my knowledge has complained shows how far we have come since the stringing of blue lights on the official trees set East Hampton into fits.