By Wanda Billbe
The Moore American
MOORE — Thomas Edison created the first strand of electric Christmas tree lights in 1880. He strung them around his Menlo Park Laboratory. Railroad passengers were the first to feast their eyes on this electrical wonder.
Edward Johnson put the first string of regular Christmas tree lights together in 1882. He was Thomas Edison’s friend and partner in the Edison Illumination Co.
Johnson hand-wired 80 red, white and blue light bulbs and wrapped them around his Christmas tree. The tree not only had electrical lights, but it also revolved.
Albert Sadacca saw a future in electric Christmas lights. Although he was only a teenager in 1917, he encouraged his family, who owned a novelty lighting company, to sell brightly colored strands of light to the pubic. By the 1920’s Albert and his brothers created the National Outfit Manufacturers Association (NOMA), and cornered the electrical Christmas lights market until the 1960s.
President Glover Cleveland helped encourage the use of electric Christmas tree lights in 1885, when he asked that the White House family tree be lighted with hundreds of multicolored lights.
On Christmas Eve 1923, President Calvin Coolidge began the tradition of lighting the National Christmas Tree with 3,000 electric lights on the Ellipse located on the south side of the White House.
It was told that to light an average Christmas tree with electric lights before 1903 would have cost $2,000 in today’s dollars.
Now the usage of LED lights has drastically reduced the amount of electricity required to light up Christmas trees, houses and lawns. Quite a change from 1903.
Many companies today allow employees to decorate their offices for the Christmas holiday, but some have restrictions for safety reasons: no electrical lights.
It’s strange to walk into a building and see dozens of decorated Christmas trees without lights. Although the trees are beautiful – some are marvelously decorated with beaded glistening bulbs and fancy brocade ribbon, but there’s a dullness that’s hard to shake.
Maybe it’s because they are missing the reason Christ came into the world — to bring light.
We have lights on our Christmas tree at home, and a bright star tops our tree. A constant reminder to everyone that on that special night so long when the Babe was born in Bethlehem. He brought Hope, Peace, Joy and Love … and Light forevermore.
Wanda Billbe is a regular contributor to the Moore American.