Downtown Christmas light fund needs financial help

By Rozella Hardin
star staff
rhardin@starhq.com

  Repairs, storage, installation and removal of the downtown Christmas lights is expected to cost over $6,000, resulting in a plea to the public for some financial help.
  Joe Alexander, treasurer of the Holiday Lighting Committee, said the total cost this year is higher than normal due to the replacement of approximately one thousand bulbs, which were blown by a power surge last season. "Installation for this year has been completed in time for the lighting of the Fraser fir on Nov. 16," said Alexander.
  "The City Government and Elizabethton Electric System have always been most supportive, but private gifts from individuals, civic groups and businesses are essential for continuation of the lighting program," stressed Alexander. He noted that in the past, contributions have ranged from less than one dollar to over $1,000. "Any donation, regardless of the amount, will be appreciated," said Alexander.
  This is the seventh year for the Christmas lighting program, which began in 1998. There had been some lights in the past, which had been done by the Chamber of Commerce. The program was spearheaded by Harvey Anderson, who at that time was a member of the City Council. Initial efforts were directed toward replacing the existing lights, with the end result with the lights extending to West Elk Avenue and Broad Street. However, a lack of funds as well as support contained the lights to the downtown area.
  The lights, which now number over 100 pole lights and more than 20 displays, are installed on Elk Avenue, E Street, Sycamore Street, Main Street, Hattie Avenue and Pine Street.
  The Elizabethton Electric System created electrical access outlets to accommodate the ornament displays, when the lighting program was begun in 1998 with 60 pole lights and eight displays. A number of pole lights purchased during the 1999 bicentennial were added to the program.
  The light displays are made of durable vinyl and metal, which provide more durability and life. They are installed and stored by Tri-Cities Decorating Company of Bristol.
  Alexander said donations may be sent to the Holiday Lighting Fund, 612 E. Elk Avenue, Elizabethton, TN 37643-3330.
  "The pole ornaments and displays are an enhancement to the beauty of our downtown. We are grateful for everyone's support and welcome any questions, suggestions or comments," Alexander said.