Some of the Town of Brookhaven workers, including CSEA members, who bring the holiday walk-through display to life every year.

HOLTSVILLE — Every year, CSEA Town of Brookhaven Ecology and Animal Preserve workers make the holiday season brighter through the town’s holiday light spectacular.

CSEA members conceptualized and built the annual walk-through light display.

The show was originally a drive-thru experience. However, once drive-thru holiday events became more common, members made the light display a walk-through event to stand out from the other shows.

All proceeds from the event benefit animal care at the preserve.

Members say the holiday light shows brings much joy to the community, and some residents have made it a holiday tradition to attend with their families.

On average, about 10,000 to 12,000 people see the light show annually.

Recycling and rebuilding

Due to the show’s popularity, workers update it each year.

Recycling is very important to the town workers, so they make use of discarded items in their homes and around the town to create the displays.

The group also relies heavily on the creativity of CSEA members working in other Town of Brookhaven departments to help with holiday creations.

From left to right, April Perry, Kelly Smith and Arleen Spence show off one of their favorite parts of the light show.

“We get discarded items from other CSEA members working for the Town of Brookhaven Highway Department like pieces of metal and sander belts,” said CSEA Town of Brookhaven Ecology and Animal Preserve worker April Perry. “CSEA members from the town welding department will use those materials to make something for the display. Members in the town carpenter shop build structures like castles and gingerbread houses.”

Not content with waiting around for scrap parts, the group “road shops” on their way to work in hopes of finding residents’ disposed items that can be refurbished for the show.

In addition, there is a very talented painter at the worksite who uses her artistry on the light show display.

Some workers who are not naturally crafty have found that working on the show has inspired a creativity they never knew they had.

“I wasn’t always the craftiest person; I learned a lot of the tricks of the trade after working on this display for years,” said CSEA Town of Brookhaven Ecology and Animal Preserve worker Kelly Smith.

New holiday tradition

Even with some 15-hour days of working on both the light show and their regular job duties, members are dedicated to putting on the show for the community.

“A lot of blood, sweat and tears go into working on this show,” said Perry. “It’s a lot of work, but we fight hard to create the best show that we can for the kids. When we see the looks on their faces, it’s all worth it.”

More than anything, members want the public to know that the Town of Brookhaven Holiday Light Spectacular is a great place to support their community and create some holiday magic.

“I have four kids and out of all of the things that we can do during the holiday season, I like to bring them here,” said CSEA Town of Brookhaven Ecology and Animal Preserve worker Arleen Spence.

— Wendi Bowie


About Author

Wendi Bowie is an award-winning journalist who has focused the majority of her career on covering Long Island news. Her efforts have earned her the Press Club of Long Island Media Award for Public Affairs and the Long Island Coalition for Fair Broadcasting Folio Award. Wendi was drawn to her current position as Communications Specialist for CSEA’s Long Island Region because it speaks to her strong desire to champion the rights of the common man and woman.

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