By Amy Kent
Herald Staff Writer
FULTON, Ill. — As the Christmas season approaches, the time for holiday decorations like the old, hand-me-down ornaments, and the tangled strings of colored lights has arrived.
To join in on the tradition of holiday decorating, many local towns hang festive, lighted displays to celebrate the season.
However, for the city of Fulton, the excitement of hanging the decorations has dwindled over the years, in large part, because the city’s displays have as well.
“The lights are about 30 years old and looking very bedraggled,” Community State Bank representative Cheryl Green said. “The whole goal is to get new lighting. We’re just trying to pizzaz the downtown.”
In order to do so, Green and her partner Patti Housenga are working with the Fulton Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Director Heather Bennet, to organize a benefit for new Christmas lights.
Those lights, 16 total, one for each light pole in downtown Fulton, will cost the Chamber anywhere from $6,400 to $11,200 depending on which design is chosen, a major reason they have waited 30 years to replace them.
“Commercial decorative lighting is very expensive, especially for a small non-profit organization to fund,” Bennet said.
So, to cover that cost, the benefit will feature two silent auctions on Dec. 6 during Fulton’s annual Christmas walk.
The Chamber of Commerce will host one auction at the Masonic building on Fourth Street, where wreaths decorated by local businesses and residents will be sold to the highest bidders and all the money raised will go into the Christmas light fund.
Another auction, sponsored by Community State Bank, will be held at the Fulton Journal office on Fourth Street, but this one will offer a variety of local goodies for guests to bid on.
“What I’m seeing is a lot of business giveaway items; the kind of items you would see at a benefit,” Green said. “Maybe a dozen or so baskets will be available, just to help with the fund raiser and we’re hoping it’ll be enough money to replace the lights.”
The baskets and the items inside have been donated by local businesses and residents who want to see improvement to the downtown Fulton decorations.
Although the ability to decorate the wreaths is no longer available, residents can still get involved with the donation part of the benefit by making their own baskets to auction on Dec. 6. Monetary donations are also being accepted by Community State Bank.
“There are three ways that people can help with the lights downtown,” Green said. “They can bid on the wreaths, they can make something to donate and if they don’t want to bid, the can make cash donations for the cause.”
It doesn’t matter what way people get involved according to Green, just that they do.
“We’re really hoping people get on the bandwagon to improve the holiday season in downtown Fulton,” Green said.