Charlie Auchter has the same misgivings every year as he thinks of the work required to hand-string 200,000 holiday lights on his property, and the 76,000 icicle lights that hang from the roof of his Absecon home.
But this year, after two damaging storms, business has been the priority for Auchter, who runs a land-clearing and mulch company. That has added to the dilemma of whether to string the lights this year.
Auchter and his partner, Connie Havens, decided to proceed, although they are running behind schedule in getting the Sooy Lane Lightshow up and running. Usually, the display is up and operational by Dec. 1.
“Normally by now, I’m much farther along,” Auchter said as he worked to get the foundation for the display nailed down on his front lawn Sunday.
Across the region, several other residents who normally have their light displays up and running shortly after Thanksgiving said they are running behind. Some said they considered skipping the holiday decorations this year, particularly in areas hit hardest by Sandy.
“We’re all just beaten up,” said John Doring, supervisor of Public Works in Brigantine. “Everybody’s been in the cleanup mode.”
As a result of the storm, Brigantine has had to curtail some of its holiday decorating — for instance, at the lighthouse, which sustained storm damage, he said.
With little energy left after working for the past four weeks helping to clean up, Doring said he considered skipping the decorations to his own home on Fownes Avenue. But then, he and his wife reconsidered.
“It’s Christmas,” Doring said. “You have to do it.”
They recently went to buy the lights and intend to start the work next weekend, he said.
Others, such as Tim McGowan, who runs a landscaping business in Egg Harbor Township that includes putting up holiday lights for customers, said he hasn’t seen any dropoff in interest this year. However, due to Sandy cleanup, work to put up the lights for his customers, who are mostly on the mainland, has been delayed.
“We’re a little behind,” McGowan said. “We had to pull our crews for the storm.”
McGowan said because he is a little behind getting his customers’ displays up, he might not be able to finish decorating his home.
“You’ve got to take care of your business first,” McGowan said.
Still, while delays are to be expected, most are only likely to be an extra day or two.
Auchter, who devotes 175 of the 200 amp electrical service coming into his house on the light display, said he intends to bring the bucket trucks to finish the work next weekend. That means that some part of the display will be lit by Dec. 3 or 4.
“Once you get out and start doing it, you realize you’ve got to finish it,” Auchter said.
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