‘Bright idea’ still shines on

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 23, 2001

Features Editor

Seventeen years ago, Mike Amos had a "bright" idea.

What would it be like if everyone in his neighborhood decorated a tree with tiny white lights during the Christmas season, Amos wondered.

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Although he admits he "snitched" the idea from a neighborhood in Montgomery, it was a novel idea, due south, at that time.

But, there was one small hitch. Not many of the houses in the Crowe Hill neighborhood had trees big enough to support many lights at that time.

So, Amos took a saw and went to the woods.

"We’ve got some property with a lot of sweetgum trees, so I just cut down a few trees and took them around to my neighbors and asked them to dig a hole and put them in the ground and put white lights on them," Amos said.

The idea didn’t exactly take root, but it did catch on because the hillside neighborhood was transformed into a winter wonderland.

"People hadn’t seen anything like it at the time, and we had a huge amount of traffic with people coming to see the lights," Amos said.

The neighborhood continued to grow from a handful of houses to 30, then 40 and more.

The more houses that sprang up the more trees Amos cut down and more and more people came to Crowe Hill to see the lights.

Today, more than 70 houses are on the hill and the little trees with white lights have become a tradition.

And, thankfully, for Amos, once "little-bitty" trees have grow stout enough to support strings of white lights and not every house depends on the "ax man" coming. However, Amos does still head to the woods each year in October and cut down enough trees so that anyone who wants one can have one.

"I stack the trees out in my yard and my neighbors come by and get one and go home and dig a hole, put it in and light it up," Amos said. "I enjoy getting the trees. That’s a Mike Amos tradition."

Some of the neighbors store their leafless trees year after year. Others get a fresh-cut one each year, but the thing is, Amos said, "everybody participates.’

"It’s all about oneness," he said. "We are like family in our neighborhood. We take pride in our homes and we like for our neighborhood to be especially pretty at Christmas. The white lights have

become a tradition and we kind of feel like we owe it to the public to put them up."

So, each year, Crowe Hill lights up the weekend after Thanksgiving.

"We don’t do anything until after Thanksgiving," Amos said. "We are a thankful bunch, too. But, as soon as Thanksgiving is over, the white lights come on."

And, the reason the lights are white is "because they make you feel good."

"Colored lights are sort of dull," Amos said. "White lights are pretty and bright and they make you feel good. I start to feel good every time I go up the hill and see the lights. I think a lot of people do. That’s why so many people ride up to Crowe Hill to see the lights at Christmas."

Amos has other ideas that are just as good, although maybe not as bright.

The neighborhood gathers annually for a Christmas campfire at "the pit." They eat deer meat -but not reindeer meat – sing songs, roast marshmallows and hope Santa Claus will come. And, he has not disappointed them yet.

"As long as we believe in Santa Claus, he will come," a bright-eyed Amos said.