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In Park City, holiday lights are winter lights – and they have new laws

Holiday lights on a house in Summit County on September 24, 2021.jpg
KPCW
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A house in Summit County has more than eight trees covered in white lights - September 2021

These days it’s not uncommon for holiday lights to go up the day after Halloween. Now with the new dark sky ordinance in Park City, these seasonal sparklerss have some rules and regulations.

It’s that time of year again. Halloween is over, Thanksgiving is around the corner and holiday lights, also known as winter lights, are popping up all over town. Some local homeowners put up tens of thousands of lights around their properties.

In 2021, Park City enacted a dark sky ordinance that regulates outdoor holiday lights, among other things. According to environmental experts, light pollution negatively impacts migratory patterns of birds as well as nighttime hunters like mountain lions.

Seasonal lights are permitted from Nov. 1 to March 1 and must be turned off by 11 p.m. on residential properties. Businesses can leave lights on until midnight.

According to the ordinance, seasonal lights must be confined to the property boundaries of the source.

Are your lights compliant? Find out here.

James Wood owns Crystal Clear Lighting, which installs winter lights. He has hundreds of customers and begins stringing lights in August after the trees have put on the majority of their annual growth.

"Then this time of year, as people are coming into town or just want to have their lights on, it's just a matter of going out and clicking on that timer and now you got your lights and they’re all set up," he said.

As a matter of convenience and safety, Wood ideally likes to get lights up before the first snow falls but that doesn’t always happen.

“We have some deadlines where, you know, people have second homes," Wood said. "And they're not coming in until Christmas, or maybe even between Christmas and New Year's. And so that deadline is to have them up by [Dec.] 24. We've even done some that week between Christmas and New Year's because people aren't coming in until, you know, after the first of the year.”

Wood said a 40-foot pine tree takes about 60 sets of lights and costs about $2,000. He said he’s seen people spend $20,000 to light their property for the season.

Wood said he thinks people should use their winter lights responsibly and show consideration for those who want to have dark skies.

“We put the lights on timers so they turn off, you know, around midnight," he said. "And, of course, come on when it gets dark so that they're not using any needless energy and so that they're not on all night.”

String lights may be used year-round on decks, porches and patios but are not allowed to light landscape or structures.

Seasonal light regulations differ from county to county and homeowner associations have their own specific regulations.

Anyone with questions or concerns about seasonal lights in town can visit Park City's Community Code Compliance here.

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Andrea moved to Park City in 2017 with two huskies, two kids and one husband… not in that order. Prior to working at KPCW, she spent decades in the entertainment industry – and racked up a few awards in the process for her work on “Behind the Music” and most recently for a film she produced for Lifetime, “Somebody’s Child: The Regina Louise Story.” She was featured on “Good Morning America” twice for her books which made best sellers lists in Dallas and Denver. She’s still hoping to write one that hits The New York Times list. She loves taking photos, loves the mountains, especially the fall, and is excited to be working with the amazing team at KPCW.