After dark, vehicles are supposed to have their lights turned on.
For one Beaufort County driver, that means flipping the switch on about 1,000 twinkling, Christmas lights that decorate his Ford Taurus.
Brandon Wooden, a 23-year-old train conductor who grew up in Bluffton but now lives in Hardeeville, said he started adding strands of lights to his car during the Christmas season about five years ago.
He was inspired by a friend who installed a string of lights across the top of his Jeep.
At first, Wooden had just a few lights plugged into an adapter in his car’s cigarette lighter, but each year he’s added more.
Now, with net lights — like the kind you’d drape over a bush in your yard — covering the silver vehicle’s hood and trunk and strands wrapped on the doors, he’s had to rig up a customized connection with his car battery to power the moving display.
He attaches the lights to the car with heavy-duty tape that he said won’t damage his car’s paint.
And Wooden’s Christmas spirit isn’t just reflected in his vehicle. He decorates his house, he said, and he likes to have a big Christmas tree.
Why does he do it?
He said his 2-year-old son, Ian, loves the decorated car, but that’s not the only reason.
“Just to make people happy and make people smile,” he said. “It really uplifts a lot of people in the community.”
He said he makes a point to drive around more often when his car is decorated.
He likes to cruise U.S. 278 through Bluffton and drive around Hilton Head Island’s Shelter Cove Towne Centre, which is also decked out in Christmas lights.
“Every night, I try to go out for a few hours,” he said.
Sometimes people are so curious, they follow him for miles.
He said he was pulled over by police officers twice during one evening last week.
One of the officers issued him a warning for improper lighting on his car.
The other just wanted to take a photo.
Lisa Wilson: 843-706-8103