Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Downtown lights will be improved


New holiday lights strung downtown will be getting a little more pizazz, following concerns that single strands of blue rope lights on light poles weren’t very festive-looking.

“Haines looks like the town that Christmas forgot,” said assembly member Jerry Lapp. “Now when you drive down Main Street you see this blue glow. There’s no pattern to it or nothing. To me it looks eerie rather than Christmasy.”

The borough and Chamber of Commerce worked together to create a plan for new holiday decor this year due to the decrepitude of the old, illuminated, tinsel-fringed candles. However, once installed, the blue rope lights didn’t go over well.

Main Street shop owner Kristine Harder, who had a hand in choosing the lights, said she was disappointed how the lights looked. “I thought there was going to be a lot more wraps around the pole. I thought it was going to go from the bottom up 10 or 12 feet... It was a little bit of a surprise, how these turned out,” she said.

Chamber member Patty Campbell also had an initially negative response. “I am ashamed to see the lights we have up and have visitors and community members see them. Half of them work, half of them don’t. They are not appealing,” Campbell said in an email to fellow chamber members and borough staff.

Public facilities director Carlos Jimenez said the borough has been fielding phone calls from residents unhappy with the lights. “Honestly, I’m one of those guys that notices other things like the conditions of the culverts and storm drains. I think they look fine,” Jimenez said.

Borough staff and chamber board members brainstormed last week on how to remedy the situation. The borough donated another $1,000 on top of the $500 it had already pitched in, and Campbell set out to buy more decorations.

Chamber president Barbara Mulford said she is glad the organizations are actively pursuing the problem. “There were many comments about ‘What is this? Is this it? Where are the old (lights)?’... Let’s have some pride in our community and do better,” Mulford said.

In an interview Monday, Campbell said she has purchased $225 worth of new lights to be strung up this week. Campbell said she purchased white LED lights that will be wound on top of the blue lights around the same length of pole. She also bought white net lights to go on the trees in front of the borough offices, and a “Happy Holidays” sign for the building as well. White icicle lights will also line the building’s roof.

Campbell said she plans to work with tourism director Tanya Carlson and Visitor Center aide Tammy Piper to order lights that are easier to maintain for next year. “Hopefully next year they will be a lot better,” Campbell said.

Navigating electrical code requirements and other regulations makes the whole project harder than most people realize, she said.