One of the hallmarks of the holiday season for residents of northwestern Vermont is a vision of one of the SD Ireland concrete trucks rolling through town, decked out from head to tail gate in 25,000 Christmas lights.
Even the rolling cement mixer is adorned with lights. Two roving trucks go wherever they’re requested, from Middlebury to Grand Isle, and another is parked for the season at Severance Corners in Colchester. And the company posts a Holiday Mixer Schedule to let people know where the trucks are traveling to.
Kim Ireland's husband, Scott, co-owns the SD Ireland contracting and construction company. She explained the company’s tradition of lighting up the night this way every winter.
The idea for the twinkling cement trucks was born nine years ago, when Scott Ireland was recovering from a surgery. "He might have been hallucinating," his wife says, laughing. "But it worked out."
The Irelands use an unthinkable amount of clear duct-tape to affix the lights to their trucks.
But how does the mixer keep rolling without tangling the lights?
"It's how they string all the cords within the drum," Ireland explains. "There's a generator on the truck. The drum itself runs from a switch inside the cab, because when there's concrete in there it has to turn. So that's run from the truck itself and then there's a generator that runs the other lights."
Confused? There's an easier answer: "We just tell people the simple explanation is Christmas magic," Ireland says.
Ireland estimates that the lights alone cost $5,000. "That doesn't include the labor and the duct-tape and everything else it takes to put them on," she says.
Luckily, constructing the spectacle doesn't preclude admiring it:
"When you're standing in the office and you see it come up over the hill, it's like every year, the little hairs on the back of your neck stand up. It's pretty cool."
Editor's note: This interview originally aired on Dec. 18, 2013.