MINNEAPOLIS – Imagine having to dress up an almost five-million-square-foot space for the holidays!

The daunting task is a reality for Brett Baudette, design manager at the Mall of America. He says they “kick in to holiday gear” in mid-September, contracting out to about 100 workers who normally build inside the stores.

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“It’s a team of construction workers,” Baudette said. “It’s kind of a fun change for them.”

They’ll spend $250,000 on new decorations and labor, with most of the work executed in the middle of the night.

And those giant tree ornaments are hung with the utmost care – being 400 pounds apiece and all!

“We want to make sure they don’t fall on our guests,” he said.

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And all those lights take weeks of overnight shifts.

“The biggest key that they try to do is keep them from tangling on the way up,” he said.

Baudette says the traditional reds and greens are largely abandoned for silver in order to complement the architectural features within the mall. He also credits his childhood holiday memories as a major inspiration.

“Back when I was a kid, we always had little tinsel trees,” he said. “You know, coming from a poor family, we didn’t have the lights, so we always hung some tinsel.”

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The decoration removal goes in phases, but the big trees come down in two days after Christmas to make way for New Year’s events.

Heather Brown