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Bulb patrols keeps twinkle in the lights

Bulb patrols keeps twinkle in the lights
Theresa Severson checks a skater display for bulbs or strings that are out. She found a few while on bulb patrol Saturday.

OSLO — The wind is wild and raw. It's 4:30 p.m. Saturday and the first lights of the Severson family Christmas display begin to flick on as Theresa and Calmer Severson are dressing unfashionably warm.

They are preparing for bulb patrol.

Before 4-year-old Anna Ask would be awed by the Severson family light display, before the night around the Oslo area farmstead would glow with 100,000 bulbs, before another evening of Christmas tradition would begin, the daughter and father would check bulbs.

The job won't be fun tonight in the low wind chill. But daughter and father, who live near Oslo, know the children get such a kick out the display and, frankly, so do they. So they are bundling up to go on the nightly bulb patrol.

Her black-and-red fuzzy hat pulled low, Theresa first walks south in her continuing battle against finicky bulbs, stubborn electrical cords and weather.

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"Everything works when we put it up," says Theresa, who has taken over the head job in the family.

With that many bulbs, cords and circuits, however, some are bound to fail. It will be their job to find them, fix them or wait to make repairs until it's warmer on Sunday.

"You get sick of lights that don't work," Theresa admits.

Things are looking good at first, but then she finds a few lights out. She makes a mental note as she passes the string of light trees that flash from red to green.

At the skaters display, she also finds the woman's skirt and man's leg are unlit. It's too cold to fix. Besides, nearly all the lights work, and people are beginning to drive in to see the display.

The two head indoors and take off their heavy clothes and watch as cars, including a white SUV with Ask inside, begin their slow promenade of the U-shaped road with its 100,000 bulbs, nearly all of them working, thanks to the family's hard work and bulb patrol.

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