Tahlequah’s annual Christmas Parade was the center of attention on Muskogee Avenue Thursday night, but those in attendance might also have noticed the decor along the street.
Since the beginning of the Snowflake Winter Festival on Nov. 21, downtown has been alight with holiday ornamentation.
The decorations include giant blue snowflakes, lamp posts wrapped in pine sprigs and lights, buildings lined with light strings, storefronts packed with holiday adornments and a colorful display at Norris Park.
Drew Haley, director of the Tahlequah Main Street Association, plays a big role in the creation of the downtown display each year. The TMSA worked with local businesses and the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce to string lights along the tops of downtown buildings.
“I actually have a hand in the decorations right now,” Haley said Thursday afternoon. “I’m on my way to finish putting them up on the light poles.”
Asked how many lights or light strings were used downtown, Haley said he didn’t know.
“I do know that we used about 4,000 lights along the tops of the buildings,” he said. “But at Norris Park and elsewhere - well, it’s a lot of lights.”
Despite the work required, Haley views the downtown decorations as the final exploit of the Main Street Association’s activities for any given year.
“I sort of look at this time as the wind-down for Main Street, because we have completed all our events for the year,” he said. “I enjoy putting up the lights and coming up with ideas. I hear a lot of comments about it - all good.”
Adding to the festive atmosphere are the storefronts, and the chamber is sponsoring a best window contest for downtown shops. First prize is $500. The public can cast ballots at the chamber office, 123 E. Delaware St., until Dec. 23 at 5 p.m. The office is open 9 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m. weekdays. The winner will be announced Christmas Eve.
“People can vote every day, once a day,” said David Moore, chamber director. “Tahlequah Cable is in the lead, but Kimberly’s Boutique is not far behind. We encourage everyone to come by and cast their votes.”
Haley said the this year’s downtown decoration are the most comprehensive in years.
“When I first took this job, I heard a comment that no one puts up Christmas lights any more,” he said. “Well, we’ve solved that problem. We’ll get on rooftops - we don’t care. And this is only the beginning. We want to add more and more every year. What ‘more’ is, I don’t know yet, but we will definitely figure it out.”
The lights will be on throughout the Snowflake Winter Festival, which runs through New Year’s Day.
“The light will be on at least that long,” Haley said. “They will come down in the days afterward, depending on if the weather allows it.”
See Sunday’s paper for the second in the series, this one about local Christmas decorations - focusing on residential displays.