Highland News Leader

Highland Chamber fundraisers aim to make Christmas lights in City Square fully LED

Miss Highland’s annual Lighted Christmas Parade? See it here.

After being delayed a day due to rain, Highland's annual Lighted Christmas Parade is being lauded as a success with more entries than the parade has ever had.
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After being delayed a day due to rain, Highland's annual Lighted Christmas Parade is being lauded as a success with more entries than the parade has ever had.

Highland’s holiday lights in its City Square have been a local tradition for as long as most can remember.

Each year the lights are switched on after Highland’s annual Lighted Parade, revealing a colorful, brightly decorated city square.

“The whole thing is a big partnership in the town and I think it’s awesome because it highlights how Highland comes together to do things,” said Chamber Executive Director Nancie Zobrist.

Currently, the chamber provides the lights and pays for the bulbs that need replacement, while other organizations tend to the houses around the square and the city handles putting up the decorations.

The large number of Christmas lights in the square comes at a cost, Zobrist said. The sheer amount of power needed to light the square often overloads the grid.

“Right now we’re maxed out on power on the square and every year we’re blowing fuses,” Zobrist said. “We have to be careful about what we plug into the square so we make sure we’re not overloading the grid.”

That’s why for the last few years the chamber has been fundraising to replace the square’s current traditional C9 holiday lights with LEDS. Zobrist described the project as a long-term plan that will, in the long run, decrease headaches with blown fuses and save the city money.

Switching to LEDs is costly, going from spending roughly 20 to 30 cents to 90 cents per bulb, which means the fundraiser will take some time.

Chamber office
Highland Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Nancie Zobrist and Assistant Director Penny Korte in the organization’s new office located at 1216 Main St. The chamber moved buildings at the beginning of June and are settling in with their longtime neighbors the Highland Area Community Foundation. Provided

Replacing all the bulbs with LEDs in just one section would cost roughly $9,000 and doing one section at a time could make the square look “uneven” during the holidays.

Last year the chamber raised roughly $3,000. Zobrist said the chamber is still figuring out how much it raised this year through its many holiday fundraisers, including its 12 Days of Christmas Raffle.

Last year was the second year of the 12 Days of Christmas Raffle, proceeds from which go straight to funding the project.

The raffle, which is in its second year, asked local businesses to donate a prize for worth at least $50 that could be raffled off. The proceeds are going toward a project that will make lighting the city square easier in the future.

Winners are chosen to correlate to each day leading up to Christmas; 12 winners on the twelfth day of Christmas and so on.

The raffle is new, Zobrist said, but it’s getting more and more popular each year.

Zobrist said the holiday fundraisers are a good way of moving toward the goal of replacing all of the lights. She said it may take a few years, but the chamber is committed to the project.

“Every year we’re chipping away at it,” Zobrist said. “I think the lights are there in the square and we all appreciate it but we don’t think about how it gets there,” Zobrist said. “So long as we continued to have lights in the square we’ll continue to keep up with these fundraising efforts.”

Kavahn Mansouri covers government accountability for the Belleville News-Democrat, holding officials and institutions accountable and tracking how taxpayer money is spent.
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