City will add Christmas lights downtown after all

After saying the city would not light downtown buildings for Christmas, officials agreed to buy new lights in response to a number of complaints. The new lights may not be installed by Thanksgiving, but they'll be up before Christmas.

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November 21, 2022 - 1:40 PM

While some lighted trees and store windows will be decorated for Christmas in downtown Iola this year, the city’s lights outlining the rooflines will stay dark. Register file photo

And the city said, let there be light — Christmas lights, that is.

After fearing it may have been too late to add Christmas lights to outline Iola’s downtown buildings this year, Mayor Steve French announced Saturday the lights have been ordered and are due to be installed soon.

While the lights may not be complete by this weekend — Iola traditionally fires up its downtown lights the day after Thanksgiving  — they’ll be up and going in plenty of time for Christmas, French said.

The old light strands had been used for years, to the point the industrial grade bulbs were nearly impossible to find.

Add to that the old wiring, and French said city crews were wise in disposing of the old strands instead of trying to reuse them again.

“Remember, our downtown buildings are 100 years old or older,” French said, another safety consideration.

Crews didn’t give much thought to replacing those lights immediately because the city already had purchased about $30,000 worth of new lights last year to illuminate light poles around the square and on North State Street.

But after it was announced at last week’s Iola City Council meeting that the building lights would not be a part of the display, French said the city fielded a number of complaints, prompting the quick action.

French said the city spent about $5,000 for 1,000 feet of lights.

French said city crews were to meet with the building owners immediately to get their blessing before the downtown decorating recommences.

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