It’s not beginning to look at all like Christmas at this point, but when the season does roll around this year, Denison will look a bit more festive.
Thanks to $5,000 in this year’s City of Denison budget and another $1,000 from the RAGBRAI executive committee, 60 poles in downtown Denison will be wrapped with lighted garland this year.
“We felt it would help increase tourism and foot traffic in downtown Denison,” said Pam Soseman, who has been pushing for new holiday lights since she visited a Denison City Council meeting almost three years ago.
“I said that I had noticed a lack of Christmas décor in the downtown area and I asked the city if they had a plan in place to replace that,” she said.
The lighted garland will decorate poles from South Main to the business district and throughout downtown Denison.
Soseman said a Denison Municipal Utilities (DMU) employee investigated and determined that power will be available on all the poles to light the garland.
One request from a meeting of Denison merchants this winter was that more Christmas décor be purchased, she said.
Soseman pulled the Christmas decoration committee together to discuss making a new strategic plan.
Along with Soseman, the committee includes DMU employees, city employees, the Chamber & Development Council (CDC) of Crawford County, Mayor Jared Beymer and Denison merchants.
The committee was responsible for banners, designed by CDC Executive Director Evan Blakley and paid for by local merchants, which were installed nearly three years ago.
Snowflake decorations that were added two years ago were also a result of the work of the committee.
Soseman said the committee wants to add snowflake decorations this year to all the nodes on Broadway and Main Street in downtown.
The committee has secured two grants for the snowflakes and is waiting to hear about a third grant.
“The original plan was to purchase 12 snowflakes of varying sizes, but if we don’t get the third grant we’ll probably have to downsize to eight or so,” she said.
Another goal for the committee is to get strings of lights back on all the downtown buildings.
A heavier gauge wire that will stand up to Iowa winters better than the wires used for older building lights has been chosen for the project, should it move forward.
The lighting will cost about $2.18 per foot to purchase, she said.
Building owners are being asked to purchase the lights.
Three volunteers have offered to install the lights, but a boom truck will still be needed, she said.
One sticking point for that project is that not all of the buildings have rooftop electrical outlets anymore.
Soseman said she did not think the committee should be responsible for solving that problem.
“We’re waiting to hear how we’ll proceed with that final phase,” Soseman said.
The building lights project will only go forward if 80 to 90 percent of the downtown building owners participate, she said.
Donations are welcome for the holiday decoration projects, Soseman said.
She can be reached at 712-269-1393. The CDC is also a point of contact for the projects and can be reached at 712-263-5621.
Soseman said the lighting projects have real value for Denison.
“We want it to be festive and we want it to be a draw to our merchants,” she said. “I think it’s vital to the health of our community.”