Led by firefighter Corey Cochran and Heflin Fire Chief Jonathan Adams, who work together designing and building the displays, the firefighters will install about 17,500 lights throughout town, Cochran said.
This year’s display will include a larger Christmas tree at City Hall and a new nativity display, Cochran said. Students at Cleburne County High School are building the nativity display, Cochran added.
Cochran said he’s been designing the displays since he was a teen living at home with his parents and Adams has always been his partner – Cochran would do the designing and Adams would build it.
“It goes back probably 28 years,” Cochran said. “I used to have a drive-through display in my yard.”
When he moved out on his own, he cut back considerably, he said. About 10 years ago, he started working with computer-animated lights.
“I did some small-scale stuff at home,” Cochran said.
He also did a display with Bennett Farms, Cochran said.
But last year, Mayor Rudy Rooks called him and asked him for some help with the city’s lighting display.
Rooks said he remembers his parents loading him and his siblings into the car to drive around looking at the lights during the Christmas season. When he grew up, he did it with his children as well. He wanted Heflin to be the local destination for people looking for beautiful holiday light displays, Rooks said.
“We’ve always had the typical snowflakes hanging on the light poles and that type thing,” Rooks said. “We wanted to do something different.”
So he talked to Cochran because he’s a “genius when it comes to Christmas lights,” Rooks said.
Last year, the city devoted about $1,500 toward lights for the firefighters to work with, Rooks said.
They built the Christmas tree and set the lights to music. Then they called on their fellow firefighters to install the lights throughout town, Cochran said.
This year, the city found sponsors to help cover the expense. W.M. Grocery, Brooks Automotive Service Center, H&R Block, Metro Bank and Casey, Casey and Casey have all signed on already, said Shane Smith, city clerk.
The sponsors have allowed the firefighters to expand their display.
“It’ll take three or four days to put things out,” Cochran said.
But much of the work has already been done. Cochran said he’s been working on the designs and programming for months.
“It’s all choreographed to music and it takes about 24 hours per one minute of music to program,” Cochran said. “I’ve been programming for about three months now.”
The Christmas tree alone has 144 computer-controlled circuits, Cochran said. The nativity scene will have another 16, he added.
Adams also has been working for months to build the structures for the lights, he said. He built the cross for the tree about a month ago, he said. But the planning takes all year, Adams added.
“When we did last year, we said ‘What are we going to do next year?’” Adams said.
But he doesn’t mind the work.
“I feel like it brings our town together,” Adams said. “And we love to see it ourselves.”
Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.