Downtown decorating gets Charles City ready for the holidays
By Kelly Terpstra, firstname.lastname@example.org
Santa’s helpers didn’t come in the form of elves on Sunday afternoon in downtown Charles City.
But there were still plenty of candy canes, Christmas lights and festive decorations placed around town that signaled Christmas is just around the corner.
Volunteers – sans their winter coats – helped Charles City get in the Christmas spirit by decorating Central Park, the Santa House and the Main Street Bridge. The beautiful fall day, which saw the mercury reach almost 50 degrees, was perfect weather to transform the downtown area into a winter wonderland.
“We’ve got some new twists this year,” said Mark Wicks, community development director. “A battle that we always fight is the wind and the winter elements. On the Main Street Bridge and Central Park, it’s really, really tough on the decorations.
“This is the first time we’ve done it on a Sunday afternoon and the weather couldn’t have been better,” he said.
About 20 volunteers contributed their time and energy to aid Community Revitalization and the Charles City Chamber of Commerce.
Arranging garland on the railing of the Main Street Bridge was part of the planned slate of activities that will help Charles City gear up for the Holiday Lighted Parade on Friday, Dec. 6.
“We’ve tried a whole variety of different things throughout the years,” Wicks said. “What looks best is when we use real garland. It lasts a lot longer. It looks really nice and people really like it. Unfortunately, it’s very expensive. So basically we’re fundraising every year for a one-shot deal.”
This year the garland was donated by Brian and Elaine Bruton, along with rope to tie it onto the bridge’s railing.
“We’re incredibly thankful for it,” said Wicks.
One problem is there are no electrical plug-ins along the Main Street Bridge railing so the garland can’t be lighted, he added.
Wicks said some years four or five volunteers will show up and most often the work is done at night after they get off work.
“We’ve put it up in some really nasty weather before, last year being the case in point,” said Wicks. “We’re trying to split it up and get everything in one day when it’s nice.”
There will also be two big wreaths that will be placed by the bridge. Additional wreaths will be placed near the area later this week if the weather allows it.
Wicks said he got a call from the city not too long ago that somebody had found a bunch of frames that looked like they could be used for Christmas trees. He said the frames had been sitting in a shed for years.
“We thought it was three pieces for one giant tree,” Wicks said. They were in pretty good shape and had all the pieces, but were missing some poles.
Wicks worked with Jacie Garden and L&J Industries to find out that the frames were actually three separate pieces. The poles were replaced and they will now stand in Central Park as lighted Christmas trees.
“They created a collar at the top and we’re going to string lights from the top to around the base and provide lit Christmas trees in the park,” said Wicks.
“We’re looking at things that we can reuse that are going to withstand the elements in the park,” said Wicks. “It’s very difficult to find things that last. We were spending money on new things every year.”
The Chamber of Commerce oversees the Santa House operation and Community Revite helps with the holiday decorations.