Christmas elves light up square

Chelsea Lea, dance studio owner, has assumed the mantle of decorating the courthouse square for the holidays. She's recruited other holiday elves to help her efforts.



December 1, 2020 - 10:01 AM

Chelsea Lea, above, organized decorating the courthouse square with Christmas lights on Monday afternoon. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

A gung-ho Christmas enthusiast, Chelsea Lea has assumed the mantle of decorating the courthouse square for the holidays. 

“I’m all about the Christmas spirit,” said Lea, who owns Miss Chelsea’s Dance Academy.

And despite the bitter cold, not only was Lea busy bringing cheer to Iola with various decorations, she also plans to volunteer at the adjoining holiday events, such as when Santa Claus comes to town.

Volunteer Aidan Jones strings lights to create a Christmas tree. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

Lea’s official elf costume is in the mail. 

“It’s high-end. I’m lovin’ it,” she said of her costume. 

“I’ve already got the ears. I have no trepidation about dressing up at all.”

Moreover, she and other high school-aged elves from her dance studio are busy learning a special Christmas dance.

Given Lea’s new degree in business administration from Fort Hays State University, before long she’ll likely be taking over operations at the North Pole.

“Let’s see,” said Lea while reviewing her work on the Iola square. “I bought 18 boxes of white lights, 18 boxes of colored, and 18 boxes of red. They only had 10 boxes of blue.”

“I also bought 20 pieces of PVC,” she noted. “We actually got the tie-downs and the rebar donated from B&W Trailer Hitches.”

Anderson Plumbing likewise donated some PVC, which all speaks to an eagerness on the part of community members and local businesses to experience some sense of holiday normalcy this year.

Volunteers Larry Peterson and Matthew Lea install lights.Photo by Vickie / Iola Register

“We’ve actually had enough response  by people that we’re going to have enough to do a few more trees here and there.”

“My main thing is I just wanted it to be a pretty, drive-through experience. They had a tradition and I’d love to step up and keep it going.”

Lea is referring to the efforts of Tracy Keagle, who for the last six years shouldered the responsibility of decorating the courthouse lawn as well as operating Santa’s Toy Shop. 

“It’s time for a changing of the guard,” Lea said.

Lea certainly has the experience to make the vision a reality.

“I love designing things,” she said. For instance, “I do set pieces all the time for my [dance] shows. But here it’s like a big stage… for the lights!”

“Really,” during such difficult times, “I just want people to know I’m thinking of them.”

“While this year is hard for many and we can’t celebrate with arms open wide, I still believe we can celebrate with hearts wide open,” she said.

Volunteers work to decorate the courthouse lawn.Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

“This community has been my home for my entire life, and I love how festive we get during the holiday seasons.”

“We keep getting donations and it’s awesome,” she added. “The more the merrier. We’re just going to keep adding around the corners here on the square.”

“Whatever people want to donate is great. And if they just want to come look at the pretty lights, that’s great, too.”

So if you’re interested in helping out this year’s holiday lights effort spurred by Lea, consider yourself invited to sponsor a tree for $30.

Either message Chelsea Lea on Facebook, or deliver cash/checks to Miss Chelsea’s Dance Academy P.O. Box 90, Iola, KS, 66749.



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