Friends help mayor set up lights extravaganza, in 10th year

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Cascade Christmas Lights, an animated Christmas light show at the house of Lebanon Mayor Paul Aziz, at 312 E. Sherman St.
Using computer software and more than 60,000 lights, Aziz, who owns Paul’s Computer Repair, designs a program that synchronizes the lights with holiday songs. He starts planning for his show a year in advance and begins putting it together in July.
In November, his friends begin building up the display and lights for Aziz, who is confined to a wheelchair following an accident. John Ongers from Pacific Power hangs large lighted balls on a 50-foot tree, and George Cawrse starts unpacking the giant master of ceremonies, Will E. Melt.

George Cawrse adjusts reams of light for a tree effect he designed for Paul Aziz’s lights display using old cattle feeders.

“He’s really good on Willy,” Aziz said. “That’s kind of his buddy.”
Cawrse has been helping build the display since 2010. He usually invests three to four hours a day, every day in November, he said.
Oftentimes Paul verbalizes new ideas he has, and George considers how he can build it, said Alan Owings, a friend who’s in his third year of helping with the light show.
“It’s a team effort kind of thing,” Cawrse said. “I build a lot of the stuff and (Aziz) builds a lot of the programming. That’s, I think, the hardest part, is all the programming he has to do to match the music with what you’re seeing.”
Some of Cawrse’s ingenuity includes using old plow disks to mount stars on the roof, and cattle feeder panels as the base of a lighted Christmas tree design.
“George is an old farm boy,” Owings said with a laugh.
Owings’ daughter Victoria and son Morgan also help.
“I just kinda got dragged along into it,” Morgan, 15, said. “I have a bit of an interest in computer programming. It’s kind of interesting to see all this and just how all this works.”
He also appreciates being outside, despite the cold, and being a part of something the community enjoys, he said.
Cawrse agreed that all his work is worth it.
“I like to watch the people react to the scenes, and the kids ‘oooh’ when something big happens,” he said.
Victoria remembers when her mom ran a daycare and would take all the kids to see Cascade Christmas Lights.
“This was my favorite part of Christmas, so I like being able to help and be part of it,” Victoria said. “It’s a labor of love, but it’s worth it to see everyone smile, especially after this year. Everyone has been through so much. I want to make sure everything’s all perfect for them because everyone deserves to have a good year.
“Especially after this year.”