Buying new decorations for the holiday season can take a bite out of anyone’s Christmas budget but imagine decorating an entire city.
That’s going to cost about $250,000 as the city looks to replace its decades-old decorations. Discussions on how to go forward with that expense began almost a year ago today.
The city is receiving a 40 percent discount from its new vendor, Illinois-based Temple Display, but did the last-minute contract approval prove to be the better deal?
When discussions began last year, Ward 2 Councilman Gene Brown urged the city to take action sooner, saying if this was done in the weeks after last Christmas, instead of this October, the city could receive a better deal. Brown also was a member of a citizen committee prior to becoming a councilman that the city put together the last time new decorations were purchased. Brown wanted to see that process happen again. However, there was not enough interest from the public.
Instead, the city council will decide on the style of decorations to be purchased.
Now, with a little more than a month to go before decorations start appearing around Thanksgiving, “Time is of the essence,” said Economic Development Director Carl Callahan.
Temple Display was chosen after the city received six sealed bids in late September with instructions in the request for proposal to keep decorations in the style of the city’s existing decorations, which have seen better days. Many have been kept strung together with bailing wire and yes, duct tape, as well as anything public works employees could figure out to keep the aging decorations working.
Callahan said the decorations needed to be addressed years ago, but the Great Recession prevented that kind of spending. The city also is looking to expand decorations from the downtown to Riverwalk this year.
Riverwalk may get the bulk of the new decorations as downtown construction projects like the new hotel, the new City Centre parking garage and the Twin Dolphin Marina renovation will all be well underway by Christmas.
“Folks may not have the ability to drive by and get a great view of what we’ve had in the past,” Callahan said. “So a lot of these things may go to Riverwalk this year and look at spreading it out from there as we go.”
That suggestion sits just fine with Mayor Wayne Poston who said, “People will love them on Riverwalk.”