Let There Be Lights

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The stockings might be hung by the chimney with care, but what about the lights on the palm trees? This time of year, local businesses and communities are competing to outdo each other with holiday spirit. Many places outsource their lighting and garlanding, which has created a prime business opportunity for some local companies.

Trimmers Holiday Décor serves many of the storefronts on Fifth Avenue and Third Street, as well as the better-known communities around Naples. The company handles between 4,000 and 5,000 clients each year. And their holiday cheer doesn’t come cheap. “It can go anywhere from $3,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars,” says Trimmers owner Bill Kilgus.

Kilgus employs between 50 and 60 employees during the busy holiday season. His operation owns its own lifts and trucks, and it needs five warehouses to store its holiday decorations. Each year, the company hangs 175,000 sets of lights, most of them between Thanksgiving and mid-December. Trimmers orders two to three 40-foot- high containers of garlands and two to three 40-foot containers of lights every Christmas. Those festive lights and garlands are destined for the front entrances, gatehouses and clubhouses of communities across Southwest Florida.

Light Up Naples is also in the holiday decorating business, though its focus is more residential. Like Trimmers, Light Up Naples does most of its work between late November and early December, though the company has taken jobs all the way up to Christmas Eve. Owner Peter O’Flinn offers his cost breakdown of holiday cheer: “You can spend $100 on a tree, and you can spend $10,000 on a tree.”

So, just what does a $10,000 tree get? “That’d be a massive oak, 70 feet high, where you’re wrapping every individual branch,” O’Flinn explains. “You’d need 200 sets of light, with 50 to 70 lights per strand.”

OK, let’s dial it down a notch. What’s a palm tree going to cost?

It depends, O’Flinn said. To wrap just the trunk with lights, figure $400. If someone wants fronds, too, that’s going to be an additional $600-$700. “Trees around town with fronds that spray off the top—that’s where people start spending a lot more money. It’s a lot more labor and a lot more time. When you’re talking about frond displays, it’s nearly impossible to do them without lift equipment. That’s where the expenses are going to increase.”

Light Up Naples has a minimum charge of $1,500, and most packages run around $5,000. For $5,000, figure roofline lighting plus multiple palm trees or oak trees—or a combination of both—wrapped with 4- to 6-inch spacing between strands. That cost figure also includes garlands around the doorway and a wreath for the front door.

While some places may not put such a high value on seasonal decorating, O’Flinn feels that Southwest Florida is heavily invested in holiday cheer. “Around here, if you see a community that’s not decorated, they’re the exception,” O’Flinn says. “You don’t want to be that exception.”


Photo courtesy Light Up Naples



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