Christmas in the Park is successful, despite vandals

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More than 15,500 vehicles went through Twin Lakes Park during a roughly seven-week period when the illuminated Christmas in the Park display was available for viewing.

“It’s pretty impressive,” said Cliff Macke, Paris Park Board president, while reviewing the numbers generated by a traffic counting device installed for the display.

Macke noted the numbers for the four-day Thanksgiving weekend between Thursday and Sunday rivaled attendance for the full seven-day week periods that followed. For the Thanksgiving weekend, 2,361 vehicles drove through the park. The highest visitation came the week when Christmas Eve was on a Monday and through the following Sunday, with 2,788 vehicles counted.

Other park board members had high praise for the newest feature – a lighted tunnel. It was a popular place to do selfies or take group pictures for posting on social media.

Chris Redman, superintendent of streets, alleys and parks, said extending the tunnel for the 2019 display is possible if the park board wants to do so. He said after seeing how the components of the tunnel are built, the city employees can fabricate the welded supports holding the lights rather than paying a company to manufacture the devices. Redman urged a decision upon any expansion in a timely manner because the city crew must start building the arches in August and September to be ready by Thanksgiving.

There was a brief discussion about phasing in LED lights for efficiency, which Redman supports, but he noted even with more efficiency the display is almost at maximum capacity for the available electric service. He said adding more elements will require putting in additional electrical drops.

Things generally went well for Holiday in the Park.

“We had some vandalism,” said Redman. “They stole the police department’s display.”

Other items stolen included the M&M figures and the Brett Eldredge banner. Redman said a 2017 banner from Eldredge was in storage and the city crew put that one up in place of the one taken.

Looking forward to summer, Redman reported booking bands for the Thursday night performances of Music in the Park has started. He needed input from park board members because Independence Day this year is on a Thursday.

“Do you still want a band that night?” Redman asked, since the city’s Independence Day celebration is now on the Saturday following July 4 to match the availability of the vendor that provides the city’s fireworks display.

When the city celebration was on July 4 a City Band patriotic concert was in the afternoon and another band played in the early evening leading up to fireworks show. The transition to a Saturday celebration is still new and kinks are being worked out.

Park board members said Redman should go ahead and book a band for the July 4 Music in the Park and another one to play the following Saturday in advance of the fireworks.

“The city will pay for the band for Music in the Park, but the park board will have to pay for the band that plays on Saturday,” Redman said.

The unknown is when the City Band will do the traditional Independence Day concert. Park board member Jodi Thierl reported she is still waiting for an answer from the city band if that organization’s members want to continue playing the concert on July 4 or are willing to move the performance to the Saturday celebration.

“If the city band decides to play in the afternoon on the Fourth – that’s no problem,” said Thierl.