Town employee known as ‘Father Christmas’

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His colleagues call him “Father Christmas.”

It’s fitting, because William Watson recently spent his 22nd year decorating Collierville Town Square.

“I enjoy Christmas,” William said. “I never thought I’d being doing this for so long, but I guess I have a knack for it.”

William works as a crew leader with the town’s Streets and Drainage Division of Public Services. Streets and Drainage crew members all seem to have a knack for “decking the halls” as the division decorates the Square every year.

Starting in October, the crew tests their equipment and plans their layout. It takes two crews to decorate the square, which they typically start the first week of November. In total, they spend an estimated 2,200 man-hours of prep work and decorating. Tear down happens in early January and takes about four days.

William said he’s always looking at what they can do differently to light up more areas of the Square. This year, they added lights to the Frisco 1351 Engine, which has been well received by the community; the Frisco Engine was recently restored after many years of wear and tear from outdoor elements.

“I’d like to light up the Frisco sign on the front or add moving lights to the wheels, so it looks like they’re turning,” said William.

When it comes to the lights, William’s “wheels” are always turning.

He led the way building the candy cane striped poles lining the walkway to the gazebo and was behind the construction of the lighted arches over another walkway.

In the future, William hopes to illuminate more of the North end of the Square and possibly decorate the median on Mulberry.

“It’s darker on the north side, because on the other end, you have the trains, the RGB tree, and the cedar tree,” he said. “I’d like to add more arches on the north walkway.”

William also shared that switching to LED lights has helped improved efficiency and is much brighter. Previously, he spent many hours trying to replace bulbs that burned out or investigate an issue with a circuit.

“There are around 25 circuits under the cedar tree, and we are only running about four,” he said.

The 30-foot cedar tree has 5,000 lights, which is the most it’s ever had. William also hopes to light up more of the oak trees in the Square possibly with lighted snowflakes or ornaments.

Many of the elements the crews build themselves, including their 20-by-20 foot storage shed used solely for Christmas decorations at the Public Services Complex.

As far as his favorite decoration, this year it was the train.

“I think it turned out great,” he said with a smile, which he immediately followed with even more ideas for next year.