While volunteers dressed as elves were hanging Christmas lights along Baker street last year, they were often approached by children looking to get a message to Santa Claus.
“They didn’t notice we were elderly and a tad taller than the ones on TV,” said Maureen Crawford, who approached city council last week to request more money for their annual decoration plans.
“I’m sure you all remember last winter was one of the coldest on record,” said Crawford. “We still saw more people than expected. It was wonderful.”
Crawford was particularly grateful for the support they received from Simon Grypma, chief of the Nelson Fire Rescue Services, and his brigade. She said they received a number of donations from the community as well, which made the Christmas lights possible.
Crawford noted that they had minimum loss of lights last year, with only two strings broken. They had some trouble with vandalism, but they were frugal with their funds and happy with the results. It costs them approximately $130 to $150 per tree.
Their goal is to have every tree on Baker Street lit up, and to accomplish that goal they were asking for approximately $5,000 in additional funding. They’re also hoping to put timers on the lights so they will blink out “before the pubs and bars do.”
Councillor Deb Kozak praised the group’s dedication, calling them “dogged” in their pursuit of making a difference in the Christmastime aesthetics of downtown Nelson.
“Our downtown is our jewel,” she said. “What I’d like to see is, let’s refer this to staff and get their recommendation.”
She noted that some trees are in the process of being removed, and may cause problems for the enthusiastic volunteers.
Councillor Donna Mcdonald echoed Kozak’s sentiments. “It’s lovely to see downtown lit up during the dark months,” she said. “But I think we need to pause a little and engage someone to give us an overall plan.”
Crawford said their eight-person team is made up of group of “pensioners” and they’re grateful for any support they receive. They’ve already started preparations on this year’s lights, and plan to expand down Ward Street to create a “central crossroads.” Decorations will start going up in November, and they’re still looking for volunteers to help.
“We’ve done what we can with what we have,” she said. “If the city came on board and found a way to do a more professional job, that would be wonderful.”
They’re hoping for a more thorough answer to their request by mid-June, but regardless of the outcome she appreciates the support offered by the city.
“We’re delighted,” she said.