Some of Fairhope’s lighted trees downtown look like they were decorated by small children who couldn’t reach the tops. As a result, the City Council Monday authorized the purchase of more lights in hopes of remedying the situation before Santa sees them.
“I’ve been telling everyone around town that we’re going to have a second lighting and do the top,” said Councilman Kevin Boone.
Fairhope’s pre-Thanksgiving tree-lighting ceremony signals the start of the holiday season. The lights stay up in the trees lining the sidewalks downtown through the Arts and Crafts Festival in March.
But this year, especially along Section Street, lights festooned only the lower parts of the trees in what some described as a basket effect. While some like it, many don’t.On her Facebook page “Karin for Fairhope,” Mayor Karin Wilson said the electric department found the trees grew so quickly over the past year that there weren’t enough lights to go all the way to the top. The announcement set off a decorating debate in the comments section that included the merits of the basket look, whether the lights were wrapped too far down the trunks, the use of LED lights, and so on. There seemed to be strong feelings against nets.
City officials said a new Facebook page, entitled “Make Our Lights Great Again” would go up Tuesday. The page would invite President-elect Donald Trump to drive through Fairhope when he visits Mobile on Saturday. It had not yet been set up as Lagniappe went to press.
Some 7,000 strings of mostly LED lights were used this year at a cost of $47,000. The additional lights will cost $23,452 plus labor — assuming the lights are still in stock. LED lights were reported to be more expensive, but the city expects to save money on electricity costs. According to the electric department, one tree can draw as much power as an average house.
Upon learning the city would end up spending more than $70,000 to light up this year, not including the cost of electricity, several council members expressed reluctance to spend the money. But they said they saw no other choice. Because of time constraints, they authorized the purchase of the lights without a formal vote and said they would formally approve it at the next meeting on Dec. 22.
Wilson promised that the city would look at other options for tree lighting during the next year.