MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

November 29, 2012

No lights on Broadway for Christmas season

City official says trees grew and damaged electric outlets

By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Many Muskogee residents remember fondly the days of bright lights, Christmas trees and music downtown each holiday season.

So, when City Councilor Dan Hall was asked by several people why downtown isn’t glittering for the holidays, he began asking questions.

As it turned out, there are no Christmas lights hung by the city in downtown because there is no electricity for them.

“The electric connections are in the tree wells, and the trees kept getting so much bigger that it tore up the electric,” said Muskogee Parks Superintendent Rick Ewing.

Hall asked City Manager Greg Buckley about the problem.

“I said, ‘OK. So why did we not get them fixed?’” Hall said. “And he said if council wants to bring them up, we can do that.”

Nonetheless, it’s too late to do anything for Christmas on Broadway, which begins at 5 p.m. today, he said, which “is a shame.”

“I don’t expect a giant tree hanging over the street, but it’d be nice to have something that shows we’re ready for Christmas downtown,” Hall said. “When I was a kid, they used to have a Christmas tree on one light pole or a Santa hanging off the side of one all up and down Broadway.”

The problem goes beyond the lack of electricity down Broadway, Ewing said.

Manpower also was a problem with all hands on deck preparing Honor Heights Park for the annual light display weeks before Thanksgiving.

However, the parks department did put up some decorations Wednesday — ribbons around the clock on Third Street and Broadway, greenery with red ribbons on every other light pole on two blocks.

Beverley Wayman of Muskogee would like to see Christmas traditions brought back to downtown.

However, she said she can see how prohibitive the cost would be to fix the electricity just to hang lights once a year.

“I can see you’d be talking about potentially sidewalks being torn up and you would be talking more than just having a few outlets replaced and such,” she said. “So, someone might investigate if there’s some other way to do it other than just through those electrical outlets.”

Wayman suggested creating a contest in which downtown businesses would compete in decorating the outside of their businesses.

Another idea — consolidate Christmas events and get every group’s resources pooled together for a spectacular Christmas event downtown.

“Maybe it would be nice to have the Magic Holiday Giveaway at the same time as the parade,” she said. “Have a big civic event at night, something along those lines. Get more people involved, more volunteers.”

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.