Hudson Avenue Tree Brightens Winter Nights


Three years ago, Andrew Bell of 1204 Hudson Avenue got the idea to light up the pine tree in his front yard. The fact that it towered somewhere around 45 feet didn’t deter the 43-year-old father of two. He did explore the use of a bucket truck, but the utility pole would get in the way. He’s an industrial designer by day and his creative engineering background helped him devise a way to string lights on the mammoth tree. “It’s the kind of stuff I like to do,” he said.
He figured that by lobbing a tennis ball with twine attached from a lacrosse stick he could create a pulley system from the top of the tree to string the 10,000 LED lights that include 41 colored balls.  He makes the colored balls by weaving different colored lights onto a chicken wire base he creates himself. This year he added a dozen more green, blue, red and purple lights.  He stores the colored balls in his basement when not on the tree.

Andrew Bell and daughter Liadan, age 6. Photos by Jim Striebich

The Bell family’s front yard faces the tennis courts at Depew Park and the tree can be seen rising majestically when travelling east up the hill of  Hudson Avenue and it appears as a beacon when approaching from the east, travelling down the hill. Every Christmas season since 2018 he’s perfected the method to achieve the spectacular effect of lighting up the tree, usually on Thanksgiving weekend.
This year he was a bit behind schedule and started putting everything on the tree on Dec. 2. “It takes several days to get up” and when people see him out there with the lacrosse stick and lights they stop to tell him how much they enjoy seeing it.
Last year the tree was a stop on the Peekskill Trolley Christmas Express, an annual holiday tour of holiday lights around town on the replica vintage trolley named Stella.
By Regina Clarkin