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Posted: November 5, 2014 "Let it Glow"

Downtown Eau Claire, Inc. wants to bring some twinkle to town. The non-profit group is organizing an effort to put up holiday lights in Phoenix Park.

"Most communities have light displays. Eau Claire really doesn't, and I think it's important that we have something beautiful in the drearier winter months. People enjoy lights so much, and to have a spot to go to is such a nice addition to any community, said Salina Heller, DECI Communications and Promotions Coordinator.

The goal, Heller said, is to have some lights up this year, with this year being a starting point. The project will be in phases, and the plan is to add more lights each year. "We need to start somewhere!" Heller said.

This year, the plan includes lighting eighteen trees. They will be along the walkway for pedestrians and drivers to enjoy. They'll be lighting the way to the bridge, according to Heller.

DECI has been working the last few months to determine infrastructure needs, power availability, costs, what kind of lights to use, and other details.

"It will be an alluring, more natural display, with white lights on existing trees," Heller said. "If we want to eventually carry the display Barstow Street, we can. We are planning for lighting to be consistent, complimentary, and aesthetically pleasing in the North Barstow Business Improvement District and in the South Barstow BID." The snowflakes that adorn light poles in winter on S. Barstow Street were changed over to a cool tone LED lights last year.

 Sean Malone of Thomas Leigh Decorators said the LED lights that will be used in the park are an investment but will last for many years. "There is a drastic difference in the amount of power used when comparing LED with incandescent. LED lights save a large amount of power, require much less infrastructure since we are not using a lot of wattage, and LEDs have a much longer life expectancy with nearly no maintenance."

Downtown Eau Claire, Incorporated is looking for businesses or individuals that would like to contribute financially to this project. "We hope the community will help support bringing a beautiful attraction to our city. Thousands of people enjoy the park in the summer months, and even still, the trail in the winter, Heller said. "We need to pay for things like electricity, electrical materials, labor, maintenance, storage, and of course, the lights themselves."  

Already, the North Barstow Business Improvement District has committed to contributing to the project.

Nick Meyer editor of Volume One, and on the North Barstow Business Improvement Board, said "Holiday lighting is a big way a downtown district can help create a quality experience for shoppers and diners. It's important we invest in those experiences, because they pay off economically in both the short and long term."

He said it's a perfect thing for community members to invest in. Meyer said they use holiday lights to make a splash at Volume One and The Local Store. "We get an enormous amount of comments on how nice it is and it's become a significant extension of our brand. We've even had people say they stopped in to check out the store simply because they saw the beautiful lighting from down the street."

Heller said if the costs to keep the lights on aren't too high, and they have money to do so, ideally the lights will be kept on past the holidays, and through Valentine's Day. "Imagine going out to dinner downtown, and then capping the evening off by taking a stroll under the twinkling trees!"

DECI is also looking into installing decorative lighting on the Phoenix Park bridge, for a future project.

If you'd like to donate to the winter light display, please call the Downtown Eau Claire, Inc. office at 715-839-4914.

"We're so excited about this idea, and hope the community is too!" Heller said.


To learn more about this project, watch the WEAU news clip here.


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