Cities Put Big Bucks Into Christmas Lights

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CLEARFIELD, Utah (AP) -- Davis County cities are plugging tens of thousands of dollars into new Christmas lights this year.

The city officials contend the seasonal decorations are a reasonable quick-fix in buoying the spirits of community members compared to the investments made in public fireworks displays.

Clearfield spent $28,000 this year on updating its holiday decorations. The new features carry a Christmas star theme, Community Service Director Tracy Heun said.

"If we didn't have them, people would question our city pride," Heun said of the 79 street pole decorations dotting State Street.

Layton for several years has invested thousands of dollars in its "The Lights Before Christmas" display in Layton Commons Park.

"For about the last five years we are averaging $7,800 a year for the 3-D animal figures and holiday lighting," Parks and Recreation Director Dean Allen said.

The city spends an additional $5,800 a year to replace burned-out or broken bulbs in the display, he said.

"I think that is a small amount of money when you look at what a city spends on everything," Allen said. "It doesn't cost as much as fireworks, for example."

The city's light display attracts more than 70,000 visitors annually, Allen said. Based on what the city spends on the display, it works out to be about a dime per person per year.

Clinton, using surplus money from last fiscal year budget, added $13,000 in holiday decorations in its growing downtown.

City Manager Dennis Cluff said the city added 36 lighted wreaths to downtown street poles. "Just the beginning," he said. "We're just going to do a little bit at a time."

The holiday lights, in addition to beautifying the city, Cluff said, "invite a more festive spirit."

Kaysville salvaged 13 aluminum old-fashioned lampposts with white octagon-shaped lenses before the west side of Davis High School was torn down in 2004. They have been repainted and decorated for this season, city parks and recreation supervisor Vance Garfield said.

Centerville parks supervisor Bruce Cox said that each year the city has a holiday budget of $7,000, with $3,000 earmarked to rent the equipment needed in getting the lights up into the park trees.

This year, the city was also the beneficiary of a donation of holiday lights by Ogden resident Bob Marquardt, founder and chief executive of the Management Training Corp. in Centerville.

While several Davis cities are spending more on decorations this year, others are keeping holiday spending in-check.

Rather than buy any new lights this year, South Weber will use existing banners reading "Happy Holidays," City Recorder Matt Dixon said.

Sunset also reports having no new decorations, and Syracuse hopes to get a little more mileage from the holiday decorations it purchased in the past.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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