A very slow-motion ballet is under way above the streets of downtown Wheaton.
Terry Armstrong and Anthony Cibella, members of the city's public works department, are using cherry pickers to maneuver in and around more than 100 trees to install thousands of new lights for the holidays.
Armstrong said more than 5,000 lights go on each tree as part of an annual project that takes a month to complete. During his tenure he has braved winds exceeding 20 mph and temperatures down to zero to get the job done, he said.
The lights will make their debut at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29, during Wheaton's Lighted Holiday Parade along Front Street. The parade will feature Santa's arrival, lighted floats and other storybook characters and signals the beginning of Wheaton's annual Dickens of a Christmas Celebration.
The lights Armstrong and Cibella are putting up will stay on the trees for two years, Armstrong said. Half the lights are installed each year on a rotating basis. When this year's new lights end their two-year tour of duty, they will be replaced with new ones and recycled.
Wheaton's recycling program includes all Christmas lights, not just the city's. If you want to recycle your lights, you can drop them off at the public works department at 821 W. Liberty St., Armstrong said.