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Christmas crane lights up downtown Colorado Springs

December 5, 2017 Updated: December 6, 2017 at 8:57 am
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Armstrong Bridgeford's 150-foot construction crane at Bijou Street and Cascade Avenue, left, celebrates the holiday season Monday night, Dec. 4, 2017 with about 5,000 Christmas lights. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Construction workers on site at the downtown Hilton Garden Inn project have one final task before they call it a day: Plug in the Christmas crane.

The colossal, 150-foot-tall crane with the 164-foot-long jib lights up the night sky with 5,000 blue, red and green lights stretched along its tower and outstretched arm.

"We have this huge icon of a crane, which downtown Colorado Springs hasn't seen in years, so instead of being an eyesore up there let's show people we're in the holiday spirit," said Chris Bridgeford, owner of Highlands Ranch-based Armstrong Bridgeford Construction. "What's better than Christmas?"

Crane operator Thomas Sarenana and project superintendent Robert Bridgeford spent half a day about three weeks ago festively decking out the giant piece of machinery located at the southeast corner of Bijou Street and Cascade Avenue. It's all a matter of climbing the monster - a 10- to 15-minute trip - and wrapping and attaching the lights.

"There's a certain way we have to do it for safety so it doesn't interfere with the operation of the crane," Bridgeford said. "We have safety equipment on when we're out there."

It cost about $5,000 to purchase and string the lights and about $50 per day to light them up.

Keep your eyes on the giant holiday ornament - a few new decorations might pop up throughout the month, perhaps a Santa Claus or a sleigh. And tune in next year - Bridgeford has a few other decorative surprises in mind after the holiday lights come down after the beginning of the year. He foresees the crane sticking around through April.

The 10-story, 167-room hotel with first-floor retail is expected to be complete by the end of next year.

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