(St.Joseph,MO) Halloween is still two weeks away, but city employees are already busy preparing for the holiday season.
"It's time for us to get started hanging the lights out in the parks. It's takes a good six to seven weeks to get everything up and ready," Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation Jeff Atkins said.
The Parks Department will spend the next month hanging over 400,000 lights at Krug and Hyde Park.
“We guesstimate around 250,000 [lights] just at Holiday Park; probably another 250,00-175,000 at the South Pole,” Atkins said. “So it’s a considerable amount of lights that theses guys get hung up out there in really a short period of time.”
Atkins said crews will be hanging lights at Holiday Park at Krug Park, the South Pole at Hyde Park, the Felix Street Square and a tree at the corner of Lake Ave and Illinois in the southend.
"We've got a deadline and we know we've got to meet it, we've never missed it. This will be our 38th year this year and we don't want to miss this one," Atkins said. “We are going to get done what we have to get done. If push comes to shove and it gets to the point were we do have to do a little damage to the sod, we will go ahead and do the damage and we will just have to fix it this spring.”
While crews work on stringing up the holiday lights, the parks will be restricted for visitors.
“The park will be restricted from day to day for the first couple weeks depending on what activities we have,” Atkins said. “We try to keep the park open after hours for the first couple weeks until we get a lot of stuff out in the park, then we just have to physically close the park for the remainder of the season.”
Holiday Park costs approximately $35,000 to operate each year, with the costs being covered by the previous years donations. The city has made a contribution to help the Parks Department convert the holiday lights from incandescent lights to LED lights to save energy. Atkins said once the entire light supply is converted to LED lights, the holiday park operations will return to running solely on donations.
Krug Park isn’t the only place getting decorated for the holidays. At the most recent city council meeting $10,000 was allocated to help decorate downtown and the Felix Street Square.
Patrick Modlin, owner of Room 108 and Felix Street Gourmet, said he has been working with area businesses to organize decorating downtown for the holidays.
"Eventually we want to have something similar to the Country Club Plaza. Right now we're concentrating around the square,but by adding lampposts and other things throughout downtown, it's going to create a very warm and fun holiday experience,"Modlin said.
The downtown group has received funding from the city,the Downtown Association, Downtown First, as well as several private donors, and will be pursuing a grant from the Downtown Community Improvement District (CID)
“Right now it’s close to $42,000 total and we have commitment or have raised about three-fourths of that so we’re about $34,000[funded],” Modlin said.
The group will decorate the downtown area from 10th Street to 4th Street including Francis, Felix and Edmond Street. Felix Street Square will be decorated with a new tree, lights around the square, lights for the gazebo, decorations for the light posts
Modlin said they will begin purchasing downtown holiday decorations this week and plan to start decorating the square by mid-November. The lights will be purchased by the downtown association, but the electric bill is being paid by the businesses surrounding the square.
"As downtown has gone through recent revitalization, we feel like this is really going to accelerate and create more momentum,” Modlin said.“For the next holiday season, we want to build on what we’ve done this year and continue to make it an annual tradition.”
The Downtown Association and Downtown First are looking for volunteers to help decorate Feliz Street Square. For more information on times or ways to contribute to the holiday lighting, contact Patrick Modlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Felix Street Square will have a tree lighting ceremony on Saturday, December 1. The city will host a lighting ceremony on Friday, November 23, at Holiday Park (Krug Park) at 6 p.m. and at the South Pole (Hyde Park) at 7 p.m.. Both Holiday Park and the South Pole will be open to tour until January 1, 2019.
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