The man behind the magic

The sun sets as Will Treelighter puts finishing touches on the Magic Tree.

Lights on trees are a common sight during the holiday season. But each winter, one man takes tree decorating to a new level, creating Columbia's "Magic Tree."

Randy Fletcher uses the name "Will Treelighter" for his tree-decorating duties, which he started in 1995.

"I had seen trees lit up before, just their trunks, and I wanted to see what they looked like with...the lights going all the way out on the branches. And so the first time I did it I did just these fingers of lights out to the tips of the branches and from there, year after year I kept adding more lights until I was doing the whole tree," he said.

Today, every inch of the Magic Tree is covered in what Fletcher estimates to be 50,000 lights.

He said it takes about 50 hours to complete the Magic Tree, and he enjoys putting in the time despite aches and pains from reaching for high branches.

"I can't think of something I'd rather be doing than doing something that fills people with joy," Fletcher said.

Fletcher will be the one to throw the switch at 5:30 on Thursday evening at the Village of Cherry Hill Holiday Festival, officially lighting up the Magic Tree. The final product is a visual reminder of what the holiday season is all about.

"It's love. I like to say love is in everything. Because if you look with eyes that are truly looking for love you can see it anywhere you look. And so to produce something where perhaps it's a little easier to see the love that's in it, is fulfilling somehow my sense of spirituality. That spirit is in the world everywhere, if we would only open our eyes and see it," Fletcher said.

The festival goes from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will also feature holiday shopping, carriage rides and a visit from Santa Claus.