Dennis Bachman steps carefully off the aluminum ladder onto a platform that’s almost as high above the ground as you can get in Baker City and still have your feet on good solid boards.
He glances at his wristwatch and issues a warning.
Close to that, anyway.
Bachman concedes that his modern digital watch might not be in perfect sync with the 113-year-old, and decidedly analog, timekeeper that he just climbed 92 steps to see.
When the massive iron bell in the clocktower at Baker City Hall sounds the time — half past 1 on Tuesday afternoon, in this case — it’s best to be prepared lest the terrific din takes you (and your heart rate) by surprise.
“Fortunately it’s only one ring this time,” said Bachman, who works for the city’s public works department.
He’s made the long climb from street level — the last 55 steps on a series of steeply pitched wooden staircases that could star in a horror film — to explain how the city is using this most conspicuous clock to add a bit of color to various holidays.
This isn’t the first year Bachman has set up colored lights to illuminate the tower’s four clock faces, each about 7 feet in diameter.
But Halloween marks the first time he’s augmented the colorful display — orange , of course — with black paper cutouts that turn the faces into whimsical jack-o’-lanterns.
“I thought about doing it last year — the clock faces already look like pumpkins,” Bachman said.
This year he enlisted help from two other city employees, Meagan Paoletti and Meranda Christensen, who made the paper cutouts.
Bachman taped them to the clock faces and flipped on the LED floodlights that illuminate the faces.
He’s pleased with the results.
“It seems like they show up pretty good,” he said.
Bachman said the city started lighting the clock faces several years ago during Christmas — red and green, naturally.
But that initial experiment, which employed incandescent floodlights, wasn’t a complete success. Bachman said the lights weren’t especially bright and the bulbs heated up.
The LEDs are both brighter and cooler.
Better still, they produce a palette of colors at the push of a button on a remote control about the size of a credit card.
B achman plans to leave the orange lights on through Thanksgiving (the jack-o’-lantern) cutouts will be removed), then return to green and red during the Christmas season.
He’s not sure whether he’ll try to incorporate Christmas-themed cutouts as well.
“It’s still a work in progress,” he said.
See more in the Oct. 31, 2018, issue of the Baker City Herald.