‘Light the Town’ campaign underway

The original downtown lights were installed in 2007. -Joe Miller

The original downtown lights were installed in 2007. -Joe Miller

With the goal of raising money to replace the city’s former rooftop Christmas lights with clear, energy-efficient LED lights, the Oneonta Business Association launched the “Light the Town” campaign in June 2019. The projected goal of $10,000 will only cover Phase 1 of the project, which will allow for the purchase of heavy-duty, commercial-grade socket stringers and LED lights. Additional funds will be needed to pay for the installation of the lights with supervision by a licensed electrician.

Any funds remaining from Phase 1 will help defray costs to maintain the system and expand into Phase 2, which is to enhance the OBA’s Festival of Lights. The board considered solar lighting; however, a solar consulting company did not recommend solar lighting due to the limited holiday season with short days, long nights, and frequent cloudy weather. It is estimated that utility costs for the chosen system will run about 25 cents per evening for one side of a block.

The OBA understands that an undertaking of this size requires the support of property owners and the local community to become a reality. Contributions can be made through the OBA’s PayPal portal on the website, or checks can be mailed. Soon, a commemorative “Light the Town 2019” Christmas ornament will be available. Proceeds from the sales will benefit this campaign. To date, $5,844 has been raised.

The tradition of strings of clear incandescent lights lighting the downtown rooftops began around 25 years ago, when then manager of Ace Hardware, Glenn Glaze, donated the lights that added a nice touch to the holiday season. Over the years, the system began to deteriorate and became quite expensive for the city to maintain. The lights were not turned on in 2017, and they were removed from the buildings in the fall of 2018.

This year’s Festival of Lights will provide enjoyment for everyone. It will include the annual holiday decorating contest; photos with Santa; the new tree contest in which 30 fresh Fraser fir trees will be beautifully and uniquely decorated by local businesses, organizations, and individuals, and displayed in the area of the gazebo on First Avenue East. A new addition to the Festival of Lights is the OBA’s “Angels in Oneonta,” a mural painted by local artist Tara Murphree. The mural is now included in the Alabama Trail of Murals.

The OBA has sponsored Christmas activities with the goal of making Oneonta a “holiday attraction and shopping destination.” For 18 years, people from all over the state and beyond visit Palisades Park’s light extravaganza. The OBA wants to give people a reason to stay a while longer in Oneonta to view the lights, sights, dine, and shop.

The OBA is a non-profit 501(c)(6) organization comprised of individuals, merchants, property owners, and advocates who work together to sustain a dynamic, vital, and diverse community through marketing, events, economic development, and leadership. To learn more, visit www.oneontabusinessassociation.com.