October 1, 2004
It's beginning to look a little like Christmas in downtown Mesa.
Some drivers on Main Street west of Mesa Drive have been treated to not-quite-seasonal holiday lights wrapped around trees and light poles in the median, which are sporadically turned on for testing.
Sharon Winter, Mesa Town Center office manager and leader of a fund-raising campaign that has almost reached its $75,000 goal for lights during the holidays, said it really isn't too early to start decorating when you're dealing with more than 100 miles of lights.
"Historically, they've begun putting up the lights just after Labor Day just because there are so many of them," she said. Mesans could be forgiven for forgetting this. Last year, the City Council, citing budget woes, cut the lavish $150,000 display people had come to expect downtown.
There would have been no display if a pre-Thanksgiving furor hadn't spurred a last-ditch drive that raised $41,000 for strings of lights wrapped around the light poles.
This year, the council agreed to pay $75,000 for about 50 miles of lights. It was up to Mesa Town Center, a nonprofit that promotes the city's downtown, to beat the bushes for the other half.
Winter said they have $15,000 to go, and work crews and bucket trucks have assembled about 25 percent of the total display, to include over-the-street wreaths and light pole decorations.
Mayor Keno Hawker will officially turn on the entire display during downtown's Merry Main Street festival Dec. 3.
City Councilman Mike Whalen, who spearheaded the fund-raising last year and is helping this year, said he's looking forward to the display.
"It should be five times as good," he said.