Company: Tempe Traffic Operations
Job Description: During the Fantasy of Lights, Chavira ensures that electricity is routed to special “power pedestals,” which power approximately 140 outlets along Mill Avenue. “Some specifically power up roadway lights, and others are specifically for the Fantasy of Lights.” All the pedestals have photocell sensors to run from dusk until dawn.
Years on the Job: Chavira has been working as a civil engineer for the City of Tempe for 15 years. He has been the acting Traffic Operations Superintendent for the past two years.
Time Spent on Fantasy of Lights: The construction of the event itself only takes a couple of days. Planning the event, however, starts in May. “We go out there and test the outlets and take care of anything that needs to be redone.”
Powering Up: Approximately 600,000 lights are used in the Fantasy of Lights display.
Installation: Four people, in teams of two, handle the entire lighting job.
Best Part: “For me the best part is the end product, just being able to see the kids and the families enjoy the evening.” Last year Chavira timed the lights so they would turn on as the parade made its way down Mill Avenue, giving a wave of lights effect. “If you can imagine a dark Mill Avenue and then all of a sudden as the parade is progressing we are flicking lights on as the parade is going. The oohs and ahhs from the families were the best part.”
Worst Part: “The budget. We want to do more every year of course, but a lot of times the funding isn’t there so we have to scale back or reduce what we’ve done.”
Upkeep: Unfortunately vandalism is something Chavira and his team must deal with every year. “Our lights are sometimes unplugged or cut, so we are constantly having to go down there and make sure the lights are plugged in or that the contractor is down fixing whatever he needs to fix on a daily basis. It’s frustrating.”
Off Season: When Chavira isn’t bringing the power to the parade he is responsible for managing street signing, lighting, signals and striping. His team also powers events throughout the year including ASU football games, the breast cancer and heart walks, Pat’s Run and the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon.