December 5, 2013 | Volume 43, Number 48

Downtown will glow with new, blue lights

Main Street will be bathed in winding, blue lights for the holidays, replacing the illuminated, tinsel-fringed candles that served as the town’s Christmas lights for decades.

“Those things were just old and worn out,” said public works director Ralph Borders. “We’re not supposed to have stuff hanging over the road (right-of-way), anyway.”

With the help of some funding from the Haines Chamber of Commerce, the Haines Borough this year will wrap light poles downtown with blue “rope lights,” said Kristine Harder, a chamber board member who led the effort for the new decorations.

Harder said her original vision was to suspend a giant, illuminated snowflake from each light pole, including along Main Street and Second and Third avenues, but ones she liked in Kodiak couldn’t endure the island’s weather.

“With the wind and the snow and rain there, they didn’t stand up very well. The lights burned out. But they made the town look beautiful. I thought maybe a different brand would stand up better, but all the companies say theirs are the best. Plus it was going to be a lot of money, about $350 per snowflake,”

Harder said she had a few businesses willing to sponsor a pole but she compromised when she realized she could get something up with the money on hand. The idea of wrapping the poles came from borough public facilities director Carlos Jimenez. Poles without electricity hook-ups are to be decorated with a tinsel-like decoration, Harder and Borders said.

“I’m not saying (snowflakes) couldn’t have been done. I see this as a stopgap measure that will illuminate town through winter,” Harder said. “They don’t have to come down right after Christmas. They’re not red and they’re not green. I thought blue would look good against the snow. I think it has great possibilities.”

Harder said she was surprised some residents wanted to keep the old decorations. “It was kind of shocking to find out some people didn’t notice how tacky and sad-looking some of the (candles) looked, but what are you going to do? It’s a way to revitalize downtown and help build up winter tourism.”

Borders said the lights will go up around Dec.10, although Harder’s preference was to have them up before the “Black Friday” shopping promotion. “The nice thing about this display is they’re not so holiday-centric, so we can enjoy them all winter long,” Harder said.

Borders said he’s glad he wasn’t in charge of deciding what style to put up. “If people don’t like them, they can’t blame me. If they don’t like it, I guess we could do something different next year.”