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Landscapers decorate for the holidays

By TORI ROECK | Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas starts in October for Notre Dame Landscaping Services, the group in charge of the majority of outdoor decorations on campus.

Pat McCauslin, manager of Landscaping Services, said it takes a three-person crew three weeks to install the lights on the large trees near the Main Building, the Debartolo Performing Arts Center, the fire station, the Grotto and Carroll Hall before wintry weather settles in South Bend.

“You never know when it’s going to snow,” he said. “… Once it starts snowing, our focus turns to snow removal and you have to stop putting lights up. So that’s why we start early.”

Landscaping crew members Ron Rosander, Tammy Bergl and Brian Anders have already put up thousands of lights around campus, McCauslin said.

“The fire station tree, if you see that at night, it’s really gorgeous,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many thousands of lights are on that tree. I know the tree at the Grotto that we decorate behind the crèche – that has close to 3,000 lights on it.
“We really like to pack lights on, really pack them on a tree, so they have a nice effect.”

In recent years, McCauslin said Landscaping Services has adopted more environment-friendly Christmas decorations.
“Our focus now is going more with the sustainable LED lights,” he said. “We’re about 90 percent [LED] now with all the lighting we do.”

For the buildings on campus, the Campus Work Control Center carpenter shop handles most of the decorations, Tanner Andrysiak, superintendent of the shop, said. The shop adorns the indoor Christmas trees and makes the wreaths and garlands, he said.

The group has received orders for decorations from 13 residence halls and is in charge of decorations in Bond Hall, Hagar Hall, O’Shaughnessy Hall, Jordan Hall of Science and the Stepan Chemistry Center.

‘Normally if they’re on a roof, the kids aren’t allowed to [put decorations there], and I believe they’re not allowed to use ladders anymore either,” Andrysiak said. “… In O’Shaughnessy, it was a 17 ft. tree, and we had to decorate from the top down to where they could reach from the ground. They weren’t allowed to get on ladders to finish.”

Andrysiak said two carpenters install all of these decorations, mostly during the first week of December, including the 10-ft tall O’Neill Hall “O” and the complicated Dillon Hall light show. The crew will also set up the nativity scene at the Grotto, he said.
 “I think last year I had four carpenters ont[the nativity scene]. It takes four guys about half a day to put it together, four to six hours,” he said

Andrysiak said the nativity scene is his favorite of the campus decorations his crew installs, and that it take four members approximately five hours to assemble.

Andrysiak said the carpenter shop does most of the same decorations each year, and McCauslin said landscaping services also carries out the same tasks from year to year.

“The folks that do it have been here for 20 plus years,” he said.
Contact Tori Roeck at [email protected]