The Holiday lights in downtown Athens are without a doubt one of the most beautiful traditions that Athens has. We see the lights hanging in the aged oaks all year long only to be turned on around Thanksgiving at which time, at least of me, the holiday season officially begins. The white lights flickering in the the leaves as the cool winter air blows down Clayton Street serve as a reminder that the college football season and the academic semester are coming to an end. Both visitors and locals drive through downtown to look up into oaks and I also say to myself, "but they're just lights." They are just lights but there is something about lights in trees that is magical, right. Well this marks the last year that we will have this tradition. The Clayton Streetscape project begins this year and the trees will not survive. There has not been mention from the city what they will do next year come holiday season but it was certainly bittersweet when the lights first came on this year. With trees gone there will be nothing to hang the lights from and Clayton Street will be hot as all hell this summer with the absence of the shade trees.
On Christmas night I headed downtown to shoot the lights for their last stand. I thought I would be the only person out that night but to my surprise they were many people on foot and in vehicle looking at the lights. Were they there to see them one more time or were they simply looking to be some place other than home for a few minutes? While my tripod was out twice cars pulled up to ask me a question. I thought they may be light related but they were not, they wanted to know if there was a bar open and there was not. Why can't there be a bar open on Christmas night. Everyone needs to relieve a little Christmas tension, right?