Art Hatley is the kind of guy who takes his work home with him. "My kids always drag my sample stuff out and string it around for Christmas, and we put some in the tree," says Hatley, vice president and general manager of the commercial lighting division of Fiberstars.
The "stuff" is the Fremont, CA-based firm's fiber-optic products--and it's not just Hatley's kids who want it for their Yuletide celebrations. You can buy fiber-optic strands, and fake trees strung with them, at your local Macy's. But a trip to a department store was not what New York's Donald Trump--millionaire, Presidential aspirant, collector of real estate and models--had in mind when it came time for him to play Santa at his opulent Trump Tower.
"The Donald," as ex-wife Ivana and the tabs call him, wanted something BIG for the millennial celebration (you expected otherwise?). Fiberstars' New York reps met with him, his people talked to its people, and the deal was done. "We don't do a lot of Christmas trees," says Hatley. "But for Donald Trump, we would've done a tepee."
Trump wanted a 21st-century holiday creation, and Fiberstars delivered. His Christmas present was assigned to FibreOptics International, a Seattle-based company that Fiberstars purchased in September 1998. FibreOptics has lit up theme park projects like Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, and indeed has lent a glow to Trump's Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, NJ.
FibreOptics designed the tree and coordinated its installation. The 45'-tall (14m) tree is a perforated metal, gold-coated display mounted in front of the Tower's 75'-tall (23m) marble waterwall; the water is redirected over the tree, not a safety hazard, because no voltage runs through the fibers and there is no electricity in the gold star, lit with endpoints, that tops it. There are more than 14,500 points of fiber-optic light strung through the perforations; these sparkle in white light, with glints of peach and amber. In total, the tree contains 33 miles of optical fiber--more than enough to make it the largest fiber-optic Christmas display ever built.
That pleased The Donald. "We seek to have the highest quality in every one of our projects, and the Millennium Tree, with its cutting-edge technology and innovation, helps us to achieve that level of quality," he remarked.
The tree is on view at Trump Tower until January 6. But Hatley thinks Fiberstars may have made a more lasting impression on Candidate Trump. "The joke is that George Bush said he had a thousand points of light. Maybe Donald Trump can say he has 14,500 points of light."