December 14, 2023 Sturgeon Electric’s Founder Invents Outdoor Christmas Lights, a Beloved Tradition That Continues a Century Later
Subsidiaries across MYR Group all carry their own unique and rich histories, but as the holiday season approaches, Sturgeon Electric’s history in particular is a hot topic of conversation as the lore of David Dwight “D.D.” Sturgeon’s invention of outdoor Christmas lights makes headlines.
Recently, Colorado Community Media covered the heart-warming story of how Sturgeon’s compassion intersected with innovation and created a worldwide tradition that continues to this day. Read on to learn more about this legend and point of pride in Sturgeon Electric’s history.
Legend has it…
Just before Christmas of 1914, 10-year-old David Jonathan Sturgeon lay ill, confined in his bed on the second floor of the Sturgeon home in Denver. The young boy was too sick to see and enjoy the family Christmas tree downstairs, but he could see some pine trees outside his bedroom window. David pleaded with his father D.D. to put lights on one of the pine trees outside so he could see it.
Determined to fulfill his son’s wish, D. D. Sturgeon, an electrician who had founded Sturgeon Electric Company, Inc. just two years earlier, dipped some ordinary light bulbs in red and green paint, strung them on electric lines, and draped them over one of the trees outside. From his bed, David watched the lights sparkle like emeralds and rubies against the ermine mantle of snow.
Word of this outdoor wonder spread rapidly and drew people from miles away. According to news accounts of the time, people in horse-drawn carriages and chugging automobiles drove slowly past the home, marveling at the beautiful glistening tree.
Years later, young David passed away, but neighbors who had marveled at his tree joined together to light up their own yards, and the Tennyson Street neighborhood soon became the talk of the town. House by house, block after block the idea spread, and through the years the holiday tradition continues to bring merriment around the world.
Thomas Edison displayed the first indoor electrically lit Christmas tree in 1882 at the home of his friend, Edward Johnson. For the next three decades, electrically lit trees remained indoors, and only for those willing to pay the price, about $300 in the early 1900s. Although it is impossible to document exactly when and where the first outdoor Christmas tree was lit with electric lights, proud Denverites believe it started with David and his father D.D. Sturgeon. In 1945, NBC broadcasted a tribute to Denver and the Sturgeon family for having originated this beautiful tradition, and the story has been covered by numerous media outlets every year since.
a Tradition given new life
Over a century after the invention, Sturgeon Electric honors its history by giving back to the community. For the past few years, the company has expanded on the tradition by decorating the home of a patient in one of Colorado’s children’s hospitals. Support from Sturgeon Electric and its community helps bring cheer closer to home for kids and families who may otherwise be having a difficult Christmas season. D.D. Sturgeon lit up a child’s holiday when he invented outdoor Christmas lights, and Sturgeon Electric continues the sentiment to this day, helping to make a child’s Christmas merry and bright.