BRATTLEBORO – Allan Seymour has always wanted to light up the Harris Hill Ski Jump.
“It’s something we’ve been thinking about for several years, but there really was no reason to do it,” said Sally Seymour, his wife, who sits on the association’s board and a committee. of approximately 16 members who help with the annual event.
This month, Harris Hill Ski Jump celebrates 100 years of hosting national events, international tournaments and the US Olympic Trials.
Allan, who sits on the committee, believes his vision came to fruition when organizers were able to hold an event on Friday night. The group has also become aware in recent years of the difficulty of hosting the event in the afternoon, when the temperatures warm up and the landing hill becomes much firmer to land on.
Going forward, Allan predicts there will be more evening jumps. He said “it was just time” to add lighting.
His specialty is everything related to threads.
“We have extensive radio communication going on and now the lights,” he said.
With the centennial event taking place this year, the group started making plans about 15 months ago.
“When we had to cancel the event last year,” Sally said, referring to a decision made in light of COVID-19, “it really allowed us to dive a little deeper into what we wanted do for an event and what we wanted to do for special projects.
When the organizers first sat down, they wanted to come up with something to thank the community for all of their support over the past 100 years. One idea included holding a parade on Friday night of jump weekend and another was a reception at a downtown establishment.
The other was to host a ski jumping event with music and refreshments.
“Someone said, ‘Well, if we want to have something on the jump, we have to jump, then we have to have lighting if we want to do it,'” Sally recalled.
When Sally came home from the meeting and told Allan that it looked like his dream was going to come true, he got to work. A San Diego company was hired to conduct an area survey and create an adequate lighting plan.
Allan said that with today’s software, he can send company-specific dimensions and details, and he’ll get back to him on what layout would be needed, as well as the type of lighting.
Spending time in his studio, Allan built 15 streetlights with three lights in each. Without the LED lights, he said, there would have been “a horrible wiring problem due to the amount of electricity it would have taken”.
“All the lights that are on top of the hill are only 6 or 7 amps,” he said. “We would need 10 times more if we had conventional lights.”
A tricky part of the project was figuring out how to light the landing hill. Allan worked closely with Todd Einig, Director of Competitions, to determine the brightness of the lights and ensure there were no dark or bright spots that would affect the jumpers.
Allan said Einig was “very helpful. I basically turned him on for…what he wanted,” Allan said. “I would call him the boss.”
Consolidated Communications donated two telephone poles for the project.
“It was huge,” Allan said. “We couldn’t have done it without them. That was key.”
Dompier Electric of Brattleboro was hired for the project.
“When you ask for help with Harris Hill, you always get a great response,” Sally said. “They were very accommodating and responsive. When we needed them, they came.”
Help also came in the form of rebates from Efficiency Vermont and financial contributions from the Brattleboro Elks Lodge. Allan and Sally declined to provide the total price for the project.
“I would say it wasn’t cheap, but then again, it’s going to last and it’s going to get a lot of use,” Allan said. “It certainly keeps Brattleboro on the map as far as jumping goes, because every other serious jump in the country is all lit.”
Allan said Retreat Farm wanted to use the lights when Harris Hill would not need them.
“I think they’ll find some use for them this summer,” he said.
The organization owns the property where the landing hill is located. Harris Hill Ski Jump Inc. has a 99-year lease to use the site for five months per year.
Allan has received positive feedback so far. He passes people who hike the jumping-off retreat trails and has noticed a lot of cars with out-of-state license plates checking the lights. He noted that the lighting had been created with the aim of avoiding too much light pollution.
Friday night lights
For the Friday night celebration, Harris Hill Ski Jump Inc. will partner with the Brattleboro Outing Club, which was started by Fred Harris in 1922, knowing he needed an organization to hold events. Sally said the club ran the tournaments for around 80-85 years.
“We wanted to celebrate our birthdays together, and we decided that the Friday night celebration would be the appropriate time to do so,” she said.
Friday’s event will be free in order to give back to the community. It will include fireworks, music and a “fun jumping tournament” in which jumpers will attempt to hit a target made with dye. The jumper who gets closest to or lands on the mark wins the competition and a cash prize.