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Decking the Halls

Area cities struggle but endure
to make the holidays bright

City employees, volunteers
give their time to help decorate

(December 2014) – One thing that is certain to bring droves of people from their warm homes during the holiday season are the Christmas light displays and celebrations. Who wouldn’t enjoy witnessing a larger than life Christmas tree burst into a holiday glow while carols are sung and hot chocolate is drunk? It is a magical time filled with cheerful sights and sounds.

Photo by Patti Watson

City of Madison employees
Burke Jones (in bucket) and
Greg Smithers use a lift to hang Christmas lights atop the buildings along Main Street in preparation
for another holiday season.

However, these displays and events do not appear by magic. They are the result of hard work and dedication. But those involved in setting up and hanging the decorations seem to be more than happy to contribute to the happiness of the citizens and visitors of their towns.
When it became clear that the city workers of Bedford, Ky., were struggling to deal with inclement weather issues as well as their regular duties and still complete Christmas preparations for Light Up Bedford, it was obvious to the Bedford Rotary Club what needed to be done. Charlie Liston, president of the local chapter, says that they were happy to help organize the event. He says that “a little army” is responsible for the decorations that are on display throughout the Christmas season.

Photo by Jenny Straub Youngblood

Aaron Kelsey (right) directs Madison Consolidated High School students in decorating the city’s Christmas tree.

The Fiscal Court decorates the Trimble County Courthouse, Rotary workers, city workers and employees of Signature Health Care all descended upon the downtown area in order to spread Christmas cheer. The culmination of this work will be enjoyed Dec. 6 when the switch is flipped at 6 p.m. and the courthouse square is brought to twinkling life. A chili supper and a craft fair will be open and visits with Santa available.
“It’s a wonderful time for everyone to sit down and visit,” Liston says. “Its important for our community and everyone involved is pleased to be a part of it.”
Also on Dec. 6, Carrollton, Ky., will hold its annual celebration called “A Christmas Carroll.” Organized by the Carrollton Main Street Program, the festivities begin with a Dessert Bake Off, according to Main Street Manager Sam Burgess. A Christmas craft fair will be set up around the Courthouse square. Carriage rides will be available, and Santa will be accepting lists from all the good boys and girls from 1-3 p.m. A parade will march through town at noon.

Photo by Darrel Taylor

Discover Downtown La Grange is planning to present its version of The Polar Express at the La Grange Train Museum this holiday season.

Of course, all the decorations did not hang themselves. The banners, snowflakes, wreaths, garland, as well as lights, were put in place by Carrollton city workers. This jolly group is supervised by Ronald Knight, who says that the decorations require “several days” of work by the city workers who go about their tasks with smiles on their faces.
Just three years ago, Madison Ind.’s Main Street remained quiet when the Christmas Parade failed to make its way through town. Due to lack of organization and support, it was cancelled. Citizens were disappointed and were calling future mayor, Damon Welch, about the situation before he had even taken office. “At that time, we realized how important it is to have a quality celebration for our community during the holidays,” says Community Relations Director Andrew Forrester.

Photo by Darrel Taylor

From left, Donna Sabo, Mike and Vonnie Glover oversee the decorations for Light Up La Grange.

This year, Christmas will be bigger than ever. Light Up Madison kicked off the season on Nov. 28 with the lighting of the community Christmas tree and the tops of building along Main Street.
The Very Merry Madison Christmas Parade is scheduled to step off at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 6. The Holly Jolly Christmas Market is scheduled to open at Madison Bicentennial Park on Dec. 6-7. There will also be an ice skating rink and visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Light Up Madison is made possible by the hard work of the City Street Department. Beginning with the signature strands of lights atop all businesses from Broadway to Jefferson Street. These lights are inspected bulb by bulb each year to ensure that all are working. The fountain is decorated courtesy of the Jefferson County Historical Society and the Nights Before Christmas Tour of Homes.

Photo by Jenny Straub Youngblood

From left, Jon Dunlap and Jim Hurst set up holiday decorations
in Bedford, Ky.

La Grange, Ky., is another town where Christmas seems to get better ever year. Members of Discover Downtown La Grange, the town’s Main Street Program, have put in countless hours to make sure that the season is bright. The annual Light Up La Grange is scheduled from 5:30-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5. Not only will the entire town be lit by Christmas lights, there will also be a skating rink, three separate street performances, Santa and Mrs. Claus, the Grinch and strolling carolers.
For the first time, La Grange is celebrating its tie to the railroad by having the La  Grange Polar Express. According to Discover Downtown La Grange director Nancy Griffin, this tour of a beautifully decorated “Christmas train” will be complemented by elves and Christmas lights galore. At the end of the tour, families will receive a bell and be entered for a chance to win giveaways sponsored by Humana.

Photo by Jenny Straub Youngblood

City of Madison employees Richard Jester, Billy
Applegate and Mike Peak set up the community Christmas tree Nov. 21.

Festival chairperson Donna Sabo says that it takes a “multitude of people” to pull off this amazing feat. Merchants decorate their shops, the county decorates the Courthouse, the city decorates the streets. Sabo adds that local couple, Mike and Vonnie Glover, have invested “hundreds of hours” in the decoration of the rail cars.
Mayor Bob Hall of Charlestown, Ind., loves Christmas. When he came into office, he took the opportunity to share this love of the holiday with as many people as possible by transforming Charlestown into “the Christmas city.” The event is made possible by “a city-wide collaboration,” according to Rhonda Davidson, Parks Director and organizer of Christmas in Charlestown. Local schools, businesses and citizens all participate in many ways such as “adopting a lot” to decorate, donating money and time, or by marching in the parade.
Light Up Charlestown took place Nov. 28 and served as the kickoff to the month-long celebration. The  lights were turned on at Greenway Park, creating a winter wonderland of lights that include enchanting animated displays. The Charlestown Family Activities Park staff is planning as ice skating, train rides and visits with Santa for several days into December. Carriage rides are available with online reservations. A Christmas parade is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6. It is a lot of work, but these volunteers say it is worth it in order to “make family memories,” says Davidson.

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