Deadrise fleet is shining for the holidays!

The custom-designed Kilmarnock deadrise holiday decoration.
by Madison White Franks

During the Christmas season, motorists in Kilmarnock will spot lighted deadrise fixtures displayed throughout town.

“We wanted to have something unique to our community and something that represented our heritage,” said deputy town manager Susan Cockrell.

The planning process for the new decorations started in January as they decided on a boat concept, said public works operator Matt Self.

“The first couple of designs just weren’t right but the final design was picked in June,” said Cockrell.

The lighted deadrise evolved in partnership with Mosca Design of Raleigh, N.C., a commercial holiday decorating consultant. The resulting deadrise is an exclusive and personalized design for the Town of Kilmarnock, she said.

Self was heavily involved in the design process and made sure the fixture was as accurate as possible.

Self and public works operator Antwon Butler installed the first deadrise on West Church Street as a preview in September and to see how the installation would proceed.

When the rest of the fleet arrived, the public works department identified six potential spots with curbside appeal. Self indicated each deadrise had to be installed 15 feet above the ground to comply with Virginia Department of Transportation requirements.

Installing the light fixtures was an interesting experience, he added.

“They are 75 pounds and 10 feet across so I had to hold onto it with one arm and work the bucket truck with the other,” said Self.

The decorations have been well-received by the public.

“The waterman love it and appreciate the efforts put forth in them. The deadrise is truly a representation of the commercial watermen,” said commercial waterman Lisa Carol Rose and organizer of WAVE (Waterman of Virginia Engaged).

“The deadrise boats have been a huge success. They are very attractive,” said town council member Emerson Gravatt at council’s December meeting.

The council typically budgets $10,000 annually for decorations throughout the town and the deadrise light fixtures took the majority of the funds this year, with money left over, said Cockrell.

The possibility exists to use the decorations elsewhere in town or for other celebrations. However, at this time, the town will not be adding to the fleet, said Cockrell.

“We have occupied all the safely available street poles. Right now, we are focusing on what will be involved with decorating the new Town Centre Park for the holiday season. It’s possible they could be used there,” she said.