David Steckowski created “Sammy’s Lights On Wheels” back in 1995. When working at the town recycling center, he threw a Christmas tree in his truck, decorated it and drove around with the tree in the back of the truck. That has now evolved into a holiday computerized light display on the go! He has taken his truck from Montauk to Manhattan, NY and points in-between.
In a conversation with Hamptons.com, Steckowski explained the genesis of “Sammy’s Lights.” He told us, “I was working at the East Hampton Recycling Center and someone threw away a tree. I stuffed it in my truck for the day, just as a joke. Everyone kind of liked it, so I drove off with it. A few days later, I thought this thing needs some lights on it. So, I put some lights on it and drove around that way. That was the end of that year.”
It returned the following year due to popular demand. “The next year everyone asked, ‘Oh, are you going to put a tree in your truck again?’ So, I was kind of committed to doing it and I ended up doing it until 2009 when I bought a house and I didn’t have the time to do it,” Steckowski said. “I thought I’d skip a year, then the next year came and went, as did another year. Next thing you know it’s 2018! Then I decided to get back into it again. I was playing around with these ‘smart LED lights.’ I put away all the regular lights and I used smart LEDs and then found the software for the computer to synchronize the lights and all that. So, the past three years I have been doing that.”
And what exactly is doing that? Steckowski answered, “Last year the tree I had in there had 750 lights on it. I thought the lighting needed to be more dense to get the effects to do what I wanted them to do, so I made a new tree for this year. This year’s tree has 2,340 lights on it.”
The tree is now made of plywood cone over steel pipe. Originally, Steckowski was using regular trees, but as he said, “The wind would mess them up. So, in 2005 I decided to make a whole nice display that slid into my truck.”
What kind of truck does Steckowski use? “It’s a grey 2014 Ford F150,” he noted.
Since Steckowski does have a full-time job, I asked how does he utilize his truck? He said, “I just do things on whims. It is the truck I go to work in, so obviously I have it on going to and from work. I ride around with it for the whole season. This year I did some changes on it – especially with the extra lights I can run it during the day and if the sun is not beating directly on it you can see it. So, I have been leaving it on all day long. I leave it out on the highway so people can see it. Sometimes I go to Sag Harbor Village at night and park there. Also, I met some guys up-island called ‘The Christmas Convoy’ who do events such as the Selden Fire Department parade through neighborhoods. We have gone to the Smith Point Beach Light Show that benefits the Girl Scouts. We drive around and people contact us and ask if we can go through certain neighborhoods.”
So, what’s been the biggest highlight? Steckowski said, “I took it into Manhattan and it was kind of fun. Somebody saw me on the Cross Island Parkway and put me on TikTok and the thing received 124,000 views and 21,000 likes. Generally, everyone just loves it. It’s a repetition of nice comments, so I can’t say one is most memorable or more special than the next one. So, I say the TikTok thing.”
David Steckowski is based in East Hampton. On some work days, he also parks the truck on Montauk Highway in Amagansett.
For more information about “Sammy’s Lights On Wheels,” visit Facebook.com/SammysLightsOnWheels.