Origin of Christmas lights started in Denver

By Elizabeth Weiler on December 13, 2023
Denver christmas lights
Civic Center Park Lights (phot courtesy: Denver Public Library)

Denver, CO — Not long after the invention of the light bulb did one Denver electrician create what we now know as Christmas lights. David Dwight (D.D.) Sturgeon opened Sturgeon Electric Company, Inc. in 1912 at 1026 14th Street in downtown Denver.

As reported by Sturgeon Inc. the founder had an ill grandson during Christmas of 1914. To cheer his ill grandson, Sturgeon dipped bulbs into colored paint, strung them on a line and hung them from a tree in the families yard. 

Intrigued by the beauty and innovation, Denver locals near and far came by the house to check out the colorful lights. Only five years later in 1919 did the city’s electrician, John Malpiede, catch wind of the world’s first outdoor electric lighted Christmas display. From there, Malpiede changed all the city hall’s lights to the colored bulbs.

As confirmed by the Denver Public Library, Malpiede created one of the first public light displays in the world. Because of the overwhelmingly positive response from the community, the next year he would lift and light the large Christmas tree that the city of Denver still enjoys today. 

The Denver Post reports, in 1956, when Malpiede retired,  his project accumulated 5,000 bulbs, 17 miles of electrical wiring, with lots more evergreen boughs decorating Denver’s City and County Building.

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