In November, Drew Mihelish, the owner of Western Montana Lighting, received a call from Terri Cheff Goldade at Washington Companies with an extraordinary proposal: to create the lit star that would grace the top of the National Christmas Tree.
Before she became the owner of WML, Drew worked with Terri at Washington Corporation. For her, the story of the tree lighting is about relationships and her past coming full circle to bring these two longstanding Missoula businesses together. And it was an exceptional opportunity to showcase the talents and expertise of the Western Montana Lighting staff.
Although WML regularly handles elaborate lighting projects for high-end clients, they had never done anything quite so high-profile. Coupled with a tight turnaround time, the pressure was on. With Western Montana Lighting’s deep roster of talent on the project, however, every challenge turned into an opportunity to shine.
As you’d expect, the star was a completely custom project, which meant that Drew and warehouse manager Bob Fryday worked through multiple revisions to fine-tune the details before a single bulb was lit. Drew’s vision was to create a sparkling statement piece without going Clark Griswold on a national scale.
In the end, Drew and Bob created a six-point cluster on each side of the star, totaling 12 LED bulbs and over 9,600 lumens. The lighting was passed to Brad at Split Mountain Metals out of Bozeman for the installation in the star itself.
As Drew watched Ridley, a school student from Bozeman, light the tree and star, she was struck by how many talented Montanans came together to create this spectacular national symbol.
From the trunk to the topper, this is one Christmas tree that is Montana-made in every way.