Focus on the Upstate 78 - A Blue Christmas - 11/5/2017

Focus on the Upstate
Sunday, November 5th

Christmas decorating afficionado and all-around regular guy Kevin Dunn talks about his grassroots movement, called a Blue Christmas, to honor law enforcement officers and what inspired him to reach out and involve the community.


Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Welcome to focus on the upstate a program dedicated to informing you about organizations that serve our community. How you can get involved with him. Here's your host Chris Evans. Good morning and welcome to focus on the upstate my name is Chris Evans today my guest is Kevin Dunn and Kevin at this may be the first time that I've had a guest in studio. Who doesn't have a tidal. Your your just regular citizen had an ordinary guy who ordinary guy welcome. Think I for being here while thanks for academy well it's my pleasure and you've got you've got to a a movement against the Jews started that you wanted to come talk that I thought it was interesting this is called a blue Christmas. Tell us what a blue Christmas it. A blue Christmas is a very simple way for average Joes like me and anybody else to say thank you to our local law enforcement. Army and it's very easy to do trying to get it done from Thanksgiving night through New Year's during the Christmas decorating holiday season. Just replace a porch light or garage light with the blue bowl. I'm very simple their easy enough to pick up in any of the big box stores home improvement stores. Kind of like he had the yellow ribbon on the tree idea but different yes yes it's that. Yeah and it's just a simple way to say thank you I came up with the idea last year so this is the second year they'll finally get it a second Christmas it and dom came up with the idea last year after hearing about officer Alan Jacobs losing is like you're right bill. And as tragic story that was in and and we'll talk about that the continue talking about how this idea came do you and and the impetus for it. Well as a senator hearing of his death it hit me I didn't know the officer. But the death hit me hard for some reasons. And thought about. Okay that there's got to be a way to say thank you to the law enforcement. And to try to remember those officers that gave their lives serving and protecting. So thought about it for a little bit. I'm tied in to the Christmas decorating community okay. And thought about cats got contacts there across the country. Let's tie that in with what this idea that I have is and came up with the idea of a blue Christmas. With the blue light in the blue light from law enforcement. And so last year I started trying to password through FaceBook groups email addresses I had to try to get the idea rolling within the Christmas community. And now you've got to a website as well a blue Christmas dot com where people can go and find out more information about this. If if there interest in participating this is. This is not really give a formal organization as such you know it's in the grass roots as a guess at this point are we even have a FaceBook group out there. Armitage on FaceBook just look for search for a blue Christmas okay and you can join that group and kind of follow through and that's kind of become a com. A salute the itself to law enforcement has people will post on the air from different parts of the country something. You know good news about officers or. And everyone swamp fortunately they'll post about an officer in their area that lost their lives in the line of duty yeah. Most of Christmas community that was my main contact. Myself I do one of these. Computerized shows were alight stairway to the music. And we all do Juan and I understand that's earned you a nickname yeah. It yet the demented elf it's meant to help our own. I've I've got a background in radio market really. Yes it's a surprise considering you're able to set that background in radio am one Christmas I decided to. To put some voice work in the my Christmas display okay. Can I live on a small cul-de-sac right you have things like be kinda my neighbors don't block their driveways. Things like that children don't welcoming the move to the display tonight as it starts up. And from the air decided while it works for me I wonder if other people in this community would use them. And they have been so but the name the demand to delta actually came from my wife. Okay that the time we were living in Seattle and you know how Seattle is known for its wonderful weather in the winter you lot terrain yet. And it was a Thanksgiving Day back then it was just a simple put a few lights up in the yard. And call it good for Christmas lights. I'm out their Thanksgiving Day and my daughter at the time maybe year and a half two years old I'm out there running around trying to get lights up and it's our rain. And having one and a half two year old trying to help. You look back you know picture that my wife comes out and she just looks at me she starts shaking her head. As usual look like a demented elf running around out there. So what I've decided to start doing some voice work for Christmas displays. Demented old productions okay that it works you know I didn't realize that the time. You'll look she get when you tell people that. Ago I should have come up with a better name for a business. But this is the the first one always sticks you know once once say you're established that that's what you get heat yes that's argues that then you owe it to everybody uses the FM. Transmitters so they can people consider the car brits and as sort of having these loudspeakers out near yard. And knowing your neighbors. So I decided that at that point to. Put voice work in the displays so it actually sounds like a radio station clutter and dumb I get comments back page you people RS. How did you get the local radio station to play your music oriented do all of that and how did you get a radio station you know and so using my ties in that I started to put out word last year rapper came up with the idea for blue Christmas. Well and it's such a simple idea and and I know that. The death of officer Alan Jacobs was felt community why to me it was it was it was very high profile. A lot of media coverage about it. And and that's and especially. Touching story since his wife was expecting and he was I believe this is his first child a member inner third heard his third okay yeah. But she was she was expecting it and Toulouse. Mean obviously the loser husband that young and end it's it's always going to be devastating but that to be in that position. I think you're really just tugged on the heart strings a little bit more. Yeah so from there I felt like something had to be done yeah especially up to that point every other news story. Was about EL. Not favorable to police officer yes yes and in these days you know everybody outside has a camera so what are now police are under. Other basically under a microscope anything they usually are gonna be. Questions well and we've done it we've got a culture here in in the united states of really kind of honoring our military. And and it says there's there's a lot of support for the troops there's there's a number of organizations that that help. A wounded veterans and and you know find jobs for for people after they leave the service and that's wonderful and and and that's a good thing. But there is it seems like the the police that we have protecting their communities here. Don't really get that same level of recognition. Bell on but if you think about it very the last line via the thin blue line as it's. Yes right arm but they're elbit. You know if you're in trouble who you gonna call again Leo and me it's like ghostbusters and no is it better at that but there are the last line and they're under seemed like everything they do. There's questions. Yeah BO and why it is they do exist why didn't they do that why did they do this instead. And it's easy to look back after an incident and asks those sorts of questions but in the moment. You know you don't necessarily have time to think those are they have the officer has a split BO it's it sounds of they'll even say it. You know they have a split second to make a decision. Right or wrong they have that split second to make a decision based on the information they have up to that point race. And so many ways I looked at it a point with the culture want a thankless job it is sure. But I also don't see it as a job I don't think anybody's ever woken up all been unemployed for six months I think governments a couple of weeks off there right. It's really a bit of a vocation and yeah we called to serve the out calling and there have been asked to be something inside of you to say I wanna do this. Frantic commit to a knowing the risks. And the other job each day is to just take a lot of the family come home to the meat tonight. And take you know take care of bad guys are when I was a kid. Too young to really appreciated my dad was an officer really back in New Jersey and and I was gonna ask if you had any kind of background connection to law enforcement because that that seems. To be via the first place that you find people. Supporting. Did the police when I was young balm talking maybe 567. He worked for the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles. And back then they and Highway Patrol division. So he was on Highway Patrol. And it remember some of the stories he used to tell but I am now wondering how much he didn't let it sit on the tea from back then. He went from there than in choosing New Jersey police training commission. It was the commission in the state that oversaw all the police academies. And put together all the training for police officers back there and monitors. So I've got that and I have a nephew now that is on the capitol police force. In DC DC okay and he's actually on protection detail now for a US senate's allow so he can't talk that much about it. Our about where he's going what they're doing understandably the other is the background there in the family for to see you really got kind of a personal connection to this idea of of supporting the police yeah. And it's just. One of those that did it feels right to do you know that it takes nothing if you rat at lunch somewhere and you see a table full of officers to go up and say thanks. Yes you know I've I've actually done similar things before I album a beef. Standing in the checkout line at adverse restore and an officer of myth firefighters somebody you know one of the sort of public service. Personnel come up behind me and they've got they're getting lunch or something in LA and and I'll just telecast here Abe whatever that is wring and up on my yeah and they and and they're always very very grateful that's the other thing is that. There's there's never a sense of entitlement or anything like that it it really I mean they are they're servants they are public servants to the Cold War. Yeah armed couple weeks I was at a fast food restaurant and an officer in Oregon through line. And it was coming out the same time I was. I held the door for her and help letter out and debt thanked her first service and what she does Spanish actually had a look of surprise on her face it. You know looked they look at it as. That's our job yet. I don't want us they're not taking it for granted but. That's what they do every day. Well as and it's it's not uncommon to find is sort of adversarial. Viewpoint from the general public towards police he other. They're the people that pull you over or there's the people that knock on your door you know elated night in and cause trouble you know she didn't play in your mis collateral Larry you gonna complain or something like that. It is easy enough to to want to avoid the police if you. Done something wrong or even if you think you've done something wrong if you think you get to get in trouble learn more harassed or something like that but. The flip side of that coin is that you have to appreciate them when they are helping people and most of the time they're helping people. Down nine times out of ten they're there to help. You ill when they get to call for. Whenever they get called little mass now I don't I don't want that want to thank you don't they go and don't ask questions here and lot of times I don't know what they're walking into usually get there. This blue Christmas idea that you had you mentioned that it was inspired by the death of officer in Greenville city police officer Alan Jacobs last year. But we had a couple of other. Like a set high profile. Deaths in India in the service you mention your dad was part of the New Jersey Highway Patrol when I just recently we had a South Carolina I would patrolman killed. In a crash. On the interstate now right down here on 385 yen. Trooper read and I think yeah Redmond is is it is was his name again survived by a family he had a wife Annette three daughters have with the memory serves and and there's and Anderson county deputy who was killed during a training exercise and only caller well there was even an Anderson Anderson county canine officer. Couple years ago HEICO that says that the died on Cyrus. And so this is it to be clear I mean even though this was inspired by the death officer Alan Jacobs this is not exclusive to him this is this is to honor police in Jenner. Right yeah his death unfortunately I guess for me was the tipping point issue won't say that he has to say OK what can I do. I can't go around to find every officer tap on a car windows say thank you. But work nor would they probably what you yet again. It's definitely and Deb my nickname then would be complete. But it just to do something in general. Tend to get the community involved too to say thank you and to remember those that have given their lives in the line of duty. The only people I knew how to get it going last year was their Christmas community. This year reaching out to them again. And asking them I put together press release. And put it up on our FaceBook group and asked them if you're area if you have connections to the media or can. Spend a few minutes looking up email addresses. Yes take this incentive took them to let them know that it's happening. Even if you're not gonna participate you can pass it on to others yeah who might be interest and a on this I'm an interest in about this Christmas decorating community this sounds like a group of people that they're really. Take this season to heart tell me more about oh we. We're working and on its meal we. Get the display up this year January as we're paring it down we're thinking ahead to the next Christmas while we can do what we can add right. And with the advent of computers over the past few years there is on several. Computer programs out there that you didn't. Used to synchronize. The lights to the music that's a lot of fun to do especially once they get up and running and you steel looks on people's faces especially the kids. So we're working on it all year long with act a lot of abuse FM transmitters yet you mentioned so people don't have to get out of their cars right. And so it sounds like a radio station and that's have to battle each you're trying to find out clear frequency. Trial on a Monday it's fine Friday night we're that station guy yeah her. But it it's a lot of fun and it's something that we do work all year people building dip from props to use on their display. There have been a few of them here in the upstate. Last year actually mine mine is called Christmas on quick await the kind of Simpson bill. And actually last year was one of the top display voted the top displays deceit. In Greenville county audio web site called red Finn okay and it's a realtor. Website yet I think you've heard it and they came out last year see on seven came out and did a story with a guy from red fish and how did he get these houses. You know what was his criteria that and there were three of us that were voted the top three. To come see watch Christmas lights agreement Ocala last year is myself. Buddy mind up being numb tellers. And also then. The guys you're in Malta and I don't look you undersea Mets. Display AT&T lights they're taking this year also don't don't go look at for an this year. But it took up to like three yards. I was a walk through. The only aren't they'd remove pieces of fencing so you can walk hindered their neighbor's yard and they just kept expanding the display. They cover all expenses for the neighbors too while the electric bill and everything for use of the yard. That's that that's really interesting and and I know it's a lot of fun for people to see those kinds of displays even if they're not putting up that kind of stuff themselves. But it. Again talking about the exclusivity of the blue Christmas this is not just for the the Christmas decorating committee that's who you reached out here because that's who you knew right. But this for everybody to be able and a police anybody can. Do it to myself for my display I've got a wire frame police officer. Okay and then next to that I've put up. A blue line a line of blue lights on each side of them are. That's com doing OK and that'll stay lit 24/7 throughout the season. Firm. Anybody who doesn't do display or wanted to do anything that provides. Porch light. Unscrew the white light and put a mobile open. Just to say thank you and how long is this going on for I'd like to do go from Thanksgiving night who live through New Year's. And I take those dates again going back to what I know Christmas community a lot of us. Start our Christmas displays Thanksgiving night right the Turkey's done let's turn the lights on. Arm and we usually go through New Year's with itself at least I do on my display ends. That seems to be the holiday season Thanksgiving kicks it off. The only official Christmas season starts neo Thanksgiving nights. And let her run throughout the whole season. So just to edited to recap if if people want to take. Take a make an effort to honor police in their community. I'd get a blue light bulb be confined to me mentioned at hardware stores closed from deep ice food you know that sort of standard places where you get that sort of stuff. I find one and just replace a lightbulb on your porch horror or your garage right. And and and let that services signal soon as I mentioned before like the route the ribbon on the the old oak tree right here Hillary Clinton on mile and oak tree. And to exit to let people know that that. That you are thinking of of you were public service officers public safety officers this holiday season. And and that. Potentially remind other people you know that that are passing through the neighbor guy executed my people. Might be a conversation starter to death what that's Alou like four yeah exactly you know with some way why blue light you know one at one that regular white lights that well here's one. And you tell me before the program that there is you've actually got a song now that's associated with this yeah. Again going back to the Christmas community rent. Reach out there's a woman named Judy pan coast. Okay she is a children's entertainer by trade. But she has released a couple of Christmas albums one song that is. Popular with us is called the house on Christmas street that's a song about a house cycles all lot of Christmas with a big decorations lights. And when I came up via pop with the idea last year for the blue Christmas she got in touch with me and said can I do a theme song for. Now now did you tell her that there's already a song called the Christmas. I could look at that and it's actually a third and say yeah he has yes just Megan joy and dove. She's also offer shall have worked has been nominated for grammys are supposed to be really cool Grammy nominated artist volunteering to write a song fruitless. And she came up with one of its called on heroes of blue and we've did you actually provided us a copy that I'm just gonna play a portion utter right now. I take a listen here is a bullet. Yeah. It's. You know. Yeah. Okay. Okay. My hair. There it is heroes who are buying cutie can't coast pantyhose. I really delighted little song and again link you said. Honoring that spirit of the hero right who has who looks after the community and when I heard the song. I asked her about it and she goes part of it is you never know what they were called for yeah why they were they area. And she goes on she wanted to be that mystery. 'cause they never know what they're being called for. Just in the last couple minutes that we have here a one and ask. What do you see for the future of a Christmas and blew me right now I gather that it's just sort of this public display. The do you have any plans to us to expand this to it to get in touch. You know they have some sort of resource for families that have been affected by the deaths of officers honestly I haven't. Have a look at our haven't thought that far ahead we're not just. Therapy are grassroots movement let's see what we can do. And for me. I didn't want it to infringe on anybody's privacy anybody's moment of loss so I I never reached out last year to a Megan Jacobs threat officer Jacobs I'll widow. But on Christmas Day last year she posted into the FaceBook group thanking us thanking. Me for doing this thanking you for thinking of her husband. Didn't know if I knew him or not but you know to carry his name and to remember him like this. And even come included a couple of pictures one of the traditions I guess for them as a family each year was to put Christmas tree in each of the child's robes. A lot and last year she wanted to continue left so they made the trees all blue. And they're Christmas ornaments on their that had brought the close of his badge and them. Well and I thought that was really nice and neat to hear back from her that she was appreciative what we were doing and. I can imagine so. Again a blue Christmas dot com if you wanna get involved and if all you wanna do is just put a blue light on your porch do that. Kevin Dunn at regular guy you and and founder of the blue Christmas. Has been my guest today thanks very much Kevin for being here well thanks for having me I enjoyed it my pleasure I'm Chris Evans and this has been focus on the upstate. You've been listening to focus on the yet state with Chris Evans if you would like more information on today's topic. Email Chris. At C Evans