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Lighting up July 4 in a new way

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A scene from Bob Moon’s recent patriotic Christmas tree display.

MILTON-FREEWATER — It won’t be fireworks, and it won’t be a celebration in the park, but Bob Moon is determined to give people a Fourth of July display.

Moon has gained local fame as the man who spends about three weeks in December filling his hilltop yard with an extravaganza of synchronized lights and music nearly every Christmas season since 2001.

Moon retired in 2010 from the Pacific Northwest Bell phone company after a 40-year career. As a switchman working out of offices in Pendleton, Milton-Freewater and Walla Walla, he acquired significant training in electronics, which has helped with his holiday pursuit.

With a lot of lights blinking in timed patterns, there are the “flying” reindeer and snowmen flinging snowballs. Andy Williams sings, and a giant, pixel-laden Christmas tree flashed colors and patterns, Moon said.

Fans of the light show — some 4,000 at last count — drive from all around the area to sit in their cars and listen to the montage of coordinated music that plays over the radio when a set station is dialed in. Usually vehicles are filled with families for whom Moon's show has become a tradition.

It turns out that this venue works perfectly for a year of socially distanced celebrations, necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. And with the current environment of anger and frustration in the country, “It seemed like a good year to try something for July Fourth,” Moon said.

So his yard will be a bearer of brightness again, with a display of lights and patriotic songs to mark the 244th year since the day in 1776 that the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress.

Creating the display, which is free to all comers, is a lot of work and a lot of extra money, Moon said.

“But I just wanted to try it one year. At least putting it up in nice weather will be a switch.”

The show, at 804 Jaquelyn St., will cycle every 15 minutes or so from 9-11 p.m. starting Monday and ending Saturday. Information about the correct radio frequency will be posted on site.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 509-526-8322.

Sheila Hagar has written for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin since 1998. Sheila covers health, social services and city government in Milton-Freewater, Athena and Weston in the Walla Walla Valley.