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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

New holiday decorations will debut during annual Jingle Bell Holiday


Next week, the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce will place new holiday decorations around the downtown area. “Our existing decorations have definitely seen their use. They are about 30 years old,” said Rachael Kinnick, director of the Chamber of Commerce.

The new decorations are part of a city-wide mission to enliven the Grinnell community. “We are really looking into ways of improving community vitality and making sure that Grinnell continues to be relevant not only to our residents but also to visitors,” Kinnick said.

The old decorations will most likely be distributed to Grinnell’s peer communities in other towns, “so that we don’t have to just dispose of them, but be able to give them to another community that could see some use out of them,” Kinnick said.

Grinnell has about 125 light poles downtown, and after the new decorations are up around two-thirds of them will be adorned with lighted snowflake displays while giant green holiday banners reading ‘Welcome’ will hang on the rest.

Kinnick said “the idea behind them is that they were a little cheaper than some of the other options, and also that they’ll be some color during the day with the banners, and then at night, we’ll have the snowflakes that will be very visible as well.”

“Trying to manage visual perception and what people want to see with cost has been a really interesting challenge,” expressed Kinnick. She reported that each individual decoration cost between $200 and $500. With 125 light poles to cover, that puts the total cost of the decorations somewhere between $25,000 and $62,500.

The decorations were mostly funded by the Hotel-Motel Tax Committee, a group tasked with doling out the revenue from lodging taxes in Grinnell. “They primarily spend it on things of community vitality, making sure that Grinnell is a thriving and relevant place for people to come visit,” Kinnick said. The remainder of the costs will be covered by Chamber of Commerce fundraising.

The Chamber wanted to ensure that the new decorations were up in time for the city’s holiday kick-off event, Jingle Bell Holiday. The event is held each year right before Thanksgiving. Stores stay open late and host activities, live music is played downtown, Central Park holds a tree lighting ceremony and hosts Santa Claus and free carriage rides are given around downtown.

Jingle Bell intentionally takes place well before the holiday season is in full swing. “The reason for that is to make sure people are thinking about all the ways that they can support local before they go out and do most of their shopping outside of the community,” Kinnick said, “so we really like to use it as more of a Holiday kick-off – less about doing your shopping that night and more about building community and getting to see some of the offerings that our local stores will have.”

Kinnick explained that in the future the Chamber hopes to replace the city’s holiday decorations on a more regular basis, rather than all at once, in order to disperse the high costs over a larger period of time.

These banners will soon adorn many of the light poles in Grinnell. Contributed photo.
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