Meadville Tribune

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December 17, 2013

Conneaut Lake light-up 'tree' project gaining popularity

CONNEAUT LAKE — Two Crawford County men have been working hard to brighten Conneaut Lake this holiday season.

All their hard work has paid off, as the lake has been alive with lights since Thanksgiving. More than 50 specially designed trees have lined the banks around Conneaut Lake with lights of all different colors that shine throughout the evening and the early morning hours just before sunrise.

Recently retired Meadville Police Chief Dave Stefanucci and Dane Lang, who owns Lang Motors in Meadville, started the project with one tree in 2006. It exponentially grew over the last few years, as the trees numbered 17 in 2012 before exploding to 54 this winter. Because of the lights’ reflection from the lake, it appears to be twice that number.

Stefanucci and Lang gather all the materials, and then they build the tree and put on the lights before erecting them on site for interested homeowners. Once the Christmas season is over, the two men will take the trees down and store them.

In addition to each homeowner paying for the unit — the flag pole, lights, and labor of putting the tree up and taking it down — the homeowners supply the electric. The lights are rated at 105 watts, compared with traditional twinkle lights, which are rated 2,470 watts. It’s quite a savings in the cost of electricity.

Stefanucci did some research and calculated that the LED lights can be operated for $2.60 for the entire holiday season — from Thanksgiving to right after New Year’s Day. That is at a cost of seven cents per kilowatt for an average eight-hour day. In comparison, the twinkling lights cost $62.50 for the same time period.

Each tree has 1,540 LED lights. Some are red; others are green, blue, purple or white.

How it all began

The project started after Stefanucci moved from Meadville to Conneaut Lake on a part-time basis in 2006. He took his flagpole tree from Meadville to Conneaut Lake and put it up.

“There were no lights out here,” he said of Conneaut Lake. “I was used to a lot of lights (in Meadville). The lake was dark and black.

“The only other tree was Dane Lang’s Charlie Brown Christmas tree,” Stefanucci said. “We had the only two trees on the southern end of the lake.”

Life-long friends Stefanucci and Lang, who also lives in Conneaut Lake, attempted to get more light at the lake — particularly for the Christmas season.

This year, the pair started working in July to construct the trees. Lang said they take “tons of hours” to construct, but it’s hours they enjoy.

“The nicest thing is I’m working with a good friend I grew up with,” said Lang, noting their wives also have become involved and are very supportive and patient. After making all the trees, the pair started in October to begin to erect the trees in the yards of those who had ordered them.

Stefanucci said they can put up between two and four trees a day, depending on weather conditions.

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