The Pulaski Christmas Lights
Local Tradition Returns Through New Year’s Eve
Christmas is often considered a season of light, and in Pulaski, it’s for good reason. Every year, the town constructs a holiday light experience like no other. With multiple themes, like Noah’s Ark, a village, and even a giant whale, the annual tradition draws in spectators from all over.
The tradition first started in 1989, after two community members, Bill Reutebach and Bryce Crist, decided to decorate. It started out humbly, with just two decorations.
“When they first started, they went out and dug up a Christmas tree, planted it and decorated it. That was the first decoration and a train that Bryce built,” says Dan Reutebach, son of founder, Bill.
The men worked to add more decorations over the years, often building things themselves. Bryce ended up constructing half a dozen more decorations before his passing. Shortly after, his wife, Barbara, got involved with the tradition. She formed the first Pulaski Christmas Lights Committee. Mann Hoover served as the first president of the committee. He significantly contributed to the event, building more decorations. Under Hoover, the committee decided to begin purchasing additional decorations.
“Tim Kuhn, he took over as president of the Christmas Lights Committee, and he decided that the town needed something big,” Dan explains. “So he and Father Ron decided to build something big, so they built the arch inside his tool shed. They spent over $300 or $400 building it, and it’s been the showcase ever since.”
Today, the town has hundreds of decorations spread all throughout the community. Visitors are invited to follow the loop and are advised to keep an eye out for this year’s new decoration: a towering 20-foot tall lighted Christmas tree.
It’s not just the official decorations you should keep an eye out for, though. The locals also decorate their homes, adding even more to the experience. And without the locals, Dan expresses, the tradition would not be able to happen. Volunteers help significantly every year, working to set up the lights.
“We always put the lights up the weekend before Thanksgiving,” he says. “On Saturday, we put up all of the big stuff and on Sunday we put up the rest of the decorations. It’s kind of the kids’ day. All the kids are out and running around. We usually have 50 to 80 volunteers that help put them out. That Sunday we always have a carry-in dinner that night after we’re done putting them up. Santa is there, and all the kids can get their candy.”
The volunteers are not the only ones that make this annual tradition possible, though. Committee members, including President Beu Johnson, work year-round to make it a success. Members June Kestle, Johnny Miller, and Mary Swayze have never missed a meeting of the committee.
“[We also want to give] thanks from our community to Paul and Brenda Gilsinger for the use of their lots for displays and storage of decorations all these years,” Dan says.
The Pulaski Christmas Lights Committee will be hosting a fundraiser soon: on December 8 they will have their annual Christmas lights auction. The event is set to begin at 7 pm at Bill & Babe’s, located at 5658 S Main Street in Pulaski.
“We have about 20 things we auction off. We have about 70 to 80 people that show up for it,” Dan explains. “It has grown, and we get a lot of donations. Little by little, [people have] brought it in, and different people bring [decorations] in, and they’ve got some really nice stuff.”
Also at Bill & Babe’s, visitors are welcome to donate to the event. With thousands of dollars of repairs to do every year, it can be difficult to have enough money to purchase new decorations. By donating, you can get your name written on an angel, a bell, or a sleigh, and your name will be up on the wall all season.
“You just pull into town, and they’ve got little arrows. It’s about four blocks long, and you make the circle around town,” Dan explains.
You can view the Pulaski Christmas Lights from the weekend before Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. The lights are on between 5 pm and 10 pm. There is no admission cost.