Vail holiday lights not green " yet |

Vail holiday lights not green " yet

Preston Utley/Vail DailyEnergy-efficient LED Christmas lights are being used to decorated more trees around Vail Village as the environment becomes a bigger concern during the holidays.

VAIL, Colorado ” The holidays did not escape the green craze this year, with environmentalists touting things like recycled wrapping paper and paperless greeting cards.

Perhaps the most celebrated green holiday accouterment was LED ” or light-emitting diode ” Christmas lights.

The lights cost about four times more than conventional, incandescent lights, but they use 80 to 90 percent less energy. They also last longer than conventional lights.

The lights are getting more and more popular here in Vail, said Lew Meskimen of Thank You Masked Man Services, which strings lights across town.

“I’m getting more questions on it,” he said.

Places like FirstBank in Vail, the Tivoli Lodge and the Mountain Haus are using the lights. Meskimen said some customers want the special lights simply because of the way they look ” they emit a soft glow.

“Other people are looking at it environmentally,” Meskimen said.

The town’s biggest user of holiday lights, the town of Vail, seems to be moving toward using more of the LED lights, too. The town is experimenting this year with the lights, stringing two trees with LEDs on the Gore Creek Promenade in Vail Village.

“I think that’s nice,” said Steve Rosenthal, whose Colorado Footwear is adjacent to the new lights. “If they can get the same kind of decoration and use less energy, that’s great. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a step in the right direction.”

The town spends months stringing the 20-plus miles of lighting in roundabouts and other public areas. The displays have become noted for their large scale over the last few years.

“People enjoy it, and we’re a place that people come to relax and find something different than they find where they live,” said Town Manager Stan Zemler. “I just think it’s one of the things that separates Vail from other resorts.”

The LED lights are just now being made in the colors that the town prefers for its decorations, Zemler said.

The lack of colors had deterred the town from trying the lights, he said.

“You definitely pay a premium up front,” Zemler said. “But you clearly save the energy. We just don’t know yet about the longevity of the lights themselves.”

The town has placed a greater emphasis on environmental initiatives over the last couple years, from offsetting all of its power with wind credits to installing solar cells on its transportation center.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or

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