A good 15 minutes before the rest of the crew arrived Tuesday morning, volunteer Dale Collins had the truck and trailer ready to go for the annual process of putting up Christmas decorations in the downtown vicinity.

Opening up a garage in the Philomath Public Works yard, Collins stepped inside to take a look around while getting out of a light rain that had been falling.

"What do you think this is?" Collins asked after taking out an odd-shaped decoration that had been hanging on the garage's wall and looking at it from various angles.

The decoration's shape remained a mystery until another volunteer, Carole Richardson, arrived with her husband, Neil, a few minutes later. She turned it right-side up and informed us it was a horse's head, which all could easily now see.

The decoration made sense since many of them were apparently originally rodeo-themed, an obvious connection to the community's annual summer celebration.

A fourth volunteer, Tami Kibble, joined the group and they all headed toward Main and 14th to start setting up decorations on light poles. Pioneer's Robert Turner came along later with a bucket truck to lend a hand with attaching decorations to light poles.

When asked about how long the decorations had been around, Collins estimated it was about 10 years ago when they were discovered.

"It was a fluke we found them," he said. "We were up in the barn looking for something else."

Someone had apparently stored the decorations in an old barn located out by the city's sewage ponds and then they were forgotten.

"We cleaned them up the best we could and changed the lighting to LED," Collins said, adding that they had originally been purchased by Dave Vincent. "They were used for quite a while and then disappeared."

The 72-year-old Collins, who shows up each year for decoration hanging wearing an elf hat with large ears, remains active on the local volunteer scene. A former mayor, he stays busy with various projects, including the summer flower basket program and through his Lions Club membership.

The decorations brighten Philomath during the holiday season on Main from 14th down to the fire department vicinity.

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