Sunday, December 03, 2000

Greetings from 'Mt. Rumpke'

21,100 lights adorn dump

By Randy McNutt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COLERAIN TWP. — Deck the dump with 21,100 lights — and with anything else that suggests holiday spirit.

        That's the philosophy at “Mount Rumpke,” where the holiday lives around — and on top of — a giant hill of buried trash at Colerain Avenue and Struble Road.

        The hill rises like a Great Smoky Mountain, all gray and shrouded in mist on a recent afternoon. On top are the letters “Season's Greetings,” decorated with more than 450 lights. They go on at dusk.

        Below the hill, two large wreaths light up a wall along Colerain Avenue. There's also a creche, a 15-foot snowman, 4,000 white lights on trees, and other decorations.

[photo] Mike Brinck, Rumpke landfill maintenance worker, pauses before a snowman made of lights.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
| ZOOM |
        Decorating the hillside began in 1997 with Steve Keylor, landfill manager at the time. He hauled a generator up the hill with a 43-foot tree, the “Season's Greetings” sign and 2,000 lights.

        The old Rumpke building looks like an oversized diner — gray and white with red trim. Trucks roll in and out of the complex. Inside the building, drivers rush past a large cardboard Santa, and white holiday lights flicker from an interior office.

        The landfill gets into the holiday spirit, says company spokeswoman Shelly Sack, because it feels good and “it's a little different.”

        One employee was so excited that he volunteered to count each light — all 21,100 of them.

        “He's worried that the circuits will go out in the rain,” Ms. Sack said.

        The company will open its grounds to the public when Santa visits 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Dec. 10 and 17.

        This is the fourth consecutive year that Rumpke Consolidated Cos. is lighting up the landfill, the highest point in Hamilton County at 1,045 feet above sea level.

        “Each year, we try to add something new,” Ms. Sack said. “Before I was hired, I heard people talk about the display, but I didn't realize what it was like until I arrived. It makes you smile.”


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