Holiday lights on the move

MICHAEL KELLY The Marietta Times Riders set off down Putnam Street Tuesday night to start the 22nd annual Holiday Lights Bike Tour, several miles through the neighborhoods of Marietta to see some of the city’s best decorated buildings.

By Michael Kelly

The Marietta Times

Judy Baker sat behind the table in the basement of the Unitarian Church downtown as people came in the door and trod down the short stairway, dressed in layers, gloves and helmets, ready to go.



“Sign-in time.”

One by one, each rider in the Holiday Lights Bike Tour signed a waiver and headed back into the night.

At 7 p.m., the temperature was 23 degrees and falling.

“It’s become a holiday tradition,” Hallie Taylor of Marietta Mountain Adventures and leader for the ride, said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

About 10 years ago, as lighting technology advanced, people began attaching lights to their bicycles, she said. “Now it’s like a bike parade,” she said. “People watch for us, and they come out on their porches and cheer.”

For Barbara Dempsey and her two daughters, Riley and Jordan Lockhart, it was the second year for the ride.

“We did it last year and loved it, but the weather was nice then,” Dempsey said. “This year, it’s like, ‘What are we thinking?’ “

Jordan said her favorite part is the lights on the bikes, and Riley said, ” I loved it when people came out on their porches and waved.”

Their bikes were decorated using glow sticks tied end to end.

“I love looking back, seeing all the lights trailing us,” Dempsey said.

The final tally was 16 riders, with two late registrants coming in as Taylor began speaking out on Third Street in front of the church to the line bicyclists, telling them that if cars needed to they could go around them, then describing the route.

Bob Heddleston, a former Marietta City policeman who now patrols for Marietta College, said he’s a regular on the ride and was one of the eight hardy souls who rode through the blizzard a few years ago.

“Everything was frozen. Gloves, helmet, everything,” he said.

With Taylor in front and the green light of the courthouse clock tower shining in the distance, the line of cyclists whizzed quietly off up Putnam Street and into the night.

Holiday Lights Bike Tour

¯ All time high number of riders: 124

¯ All time low: 8

¯ Route: 8-10 miles around Marietta

¯ Time: One hour to one-and-one-half hours

¯ Duration: 22 years

¯ Date: Dec. 26, every year