Man who started University Ave. holiday lights dies - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Man who started University Ave. holiday lights dies

By Jeff Angileri - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MADISON (WKOW) -- If you've ever driven on University Avenue during the holiday season, you've no doubt appreciated the work of Dr. Jack Kammer.

The Madison dentist began stringing colored lights 228 pine trees sixteen years ago.

Kammer passed away Thursday at the age of 83. Family members say he died from complications from a head injury.

Kammer's son Chris says, at first, the family wasn't sure about the holiday display.

"I thought it might be a little too Vegas," Chris said. "I'll never forget the first time I saw the lights coming over the hill on University Avenue. I got such a welcome rush of holiday joy."

Dozens of volunteers now help string the lights.

Last fall, Jack Kammer said his display topped New York's famous holiday attraction.

"The Christmas tree in Times Square has 35,000 lights," Kammer said. "We have 135,000."

Kammer spent more than $10,000 each year in electricity and repairs.

"These lights are subject to harsh winter conditions, they just don't make it," he said.

But thanks to donations and volunteers, the tradition keeps lighting University Avenue.

Last fall, at the age of 82, he talked about the legacy of the lights, "I'm not sure how long I'll be able to do it, but I hope I will have some people who will take over when I can't do it anymore."

Kammer leaves behind his wife, four children, and six grandchildren.

Family members say they will carry on the lighting tradition.

He also founded the American Academy Of Cosmetic Dentistry 25 years ago.

To read a full-length feature of Dr. Kammer, click on the link below.

27 News' Continuing Coverage: Holiday Light Tradition Continues (Nov. 25, 2009)

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