The 2008 Holiday Lighting Kickoff at Memorial Park replaces the city's former caroling event to officially start the holiday season.
After the 6 p.m. lighting, downtown shops will welcome shoppers into their holiday-decorated stores after hours until 8 p.m.
Around 20 to 30 stores will stay open for the annual Downtown Open House, and “probably most have decorated for the holidays and will have holiday specials,“ says Amy Talbot, Downtown Merchant Association president.
City Council initiated the city's purchase of new town holiday lights and decorations in February to replace last year's less-energy-friendly incandescent bulbs that were over a decade old.
Alternating red and green banners that read, “Happy Holidays“ and “Merry Christmas“ are on poles along Main Street reaching almost to Wilson Road through Memorial Park, says Scott Sawyer, director of the city's Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department
There are also light-outlined bells and new ground decorations that will light up at Memorial Park, Astwood Park and behind Community Hall.
“It will be a neat thing for people who live here driving downtown,“ said Sawyer, “And it will be neat for the people who travel through, too.“
Monday night, the city tested light decorations at Memorial Park for the event.
“They look great,“ says Assistant City Manager Jeff Shacker. “I think people are going to be pretty excited about it.“
And the lights aren't just pretty.
Shacker says the d