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Fifteen Hundred Lights


Fifteen hundred shining bulbs of light can make a very nice display. Of course, we don’t often think of bulb counts, these days, unless we’re out buying a string of lights. Fifteen hundred bulbs is nice, but they really aren’t hard to accrue.

In 1931, however, fifteen hundred bulbs created a display that, for that era, could only be called “novel” and “spectacular.”

On this day those many years ago, Fargo-Moorhead electricians were still arranging that amazing display in the Crystal ballroom in Fargo.

Made of slightly more than fifteen hundred lights, the display was the prelude, a hint to the first annual Fargo-Moorhead electrical workers ball, which was to occur the next day.

The electricians had already worked on the display for several days, and it was huge.

Of course, lights were the theme of the display. When it was finished, streams of different colored bulbs, starting from the center of the ceiling, where the large crystal ball was hanging in its namesake room, were strewn around the room, forming the look of a large wheel in motion. Floodlights were arranged around so that the building could be turned from blue to red, and another part of the display made it possible to dim or brighten the lights throughout the display. Lights of all colors hung around the sides of the hall. Electric wiring that was made to resemble lightning decorated the windows. As the crème de la crème, the stage was arranged so as to represent the ultimate light source—a sun, perhaps symbolically starting to set. Red and orange rays shone out from around the stage, and a large, tri-colored sign hanging nearby spelled out “Electrical workers.”

This glowing sight was one that none had seen before—in fact, not even the electrical workers who worked so hard on it had seen it before in the northwest.

On this day, those Electric workers were able to share the essence of their jobs with the world around them, as well as with each other.

And the electricians, as the rest of the world oohed and ahhed over their handiwork, were able to rest and relax in preparation for their first ball, and their chance to “frolic” and enjoy all that they had a hand in creating.

We’ve come a long way from there—but remember, we owe a lot to those hard-working electricians and their amazing electric lights.

By Sarah Walker

Sources: Fargo Forum, Thursday, Feb. 12, 1931, p.6