Effort underway to refurbish aging snowflakes
"The snowflakes are melting!" says Suzy Tuggle, a member of the Concordia Christmas Lighting Committee.
Tuggle was speaking metaphorically, and referring to the 'snowflake' Christmas decorations - and the other ornaments and swag that go with it - that adorn Concordia's downtown area each holiday season.
The Christmas decoration project was started in 1999 by a group of community volunteers who wanted to spruce up the downtown view with festive holiday lighting.
"Back then the city had to remove many of the trees on 6th Street, and the other decorations had been vandalized," Tuggle said.
The committee chose the snowflake design because of its unique appearance, and its lighted effect on the Viaduct Bridge and the buildings along 6th Street at night.
"This was twenty years ago, and the decorations were just really special looking," Tuggle recalled. "I think we made the right decision when choosing them, because they still look special today. It really enhances all of downtown Concordia."
The snowflakes cost $250 each in 1999, and the volunteer committee was able to raise enough funds to buy 21 of them.
The project expanded over the years. With charitable contributions from the community and several grants, the committee has built a snowflake collection that numbers 160. Every year the volunteer group spends hundreds of hours getting the snowflakes ready for the holidays, and they're grateful to the city crews that help put them on display.
But the snowflakes are aging and need to be repaired. The wear and tear of winter weather is causing the paint to peel, rusting the metal underneath, and eroding the electrical wiring.
"Those snowflakes now cost $500 new," Tuggle said. "So it's cheaper to refurbish each one, but that costs about $350 apiece."
To date the committee has refurbished 85 of the snowflakes, so they still have 75 to go. Donations from businesses and citizens in the area has been generous, but the committee needs approximately $21,000 to finish the project.
"We really feel that the snowflakes and the swag just add so much to the downtown area during the holidays," Tuggle said. "So we hope the community will help us keep this beautiful display going for years to come."
If you would like to make a 'snowflake' donation, please mail your contribution in care of the Chamber of Commerce, Christmas Lighting Committee, at 606 Washington Street. Or you can stop by and see Annie Bergmann at the Chamber office Monday through Friday.
"Every little bit helps," Tuggle said. "Even $5 and $10 donations are greatly appreciated. It all adds up."
Christmas is the season of giving, and the Christmas Lighting Committee hopes citizens and businesses will give enough to keep a beautiful holiday tradition going for the next generation of Concordians to enjoy.