KINGMAN – The annual Christmas tree lighting at City Hall will be moved to Locomotive Park next year and will be held on Friday evening instead of following the Very Merry Parade of Lights.
City Clerk Sydney Muhle said it took a full week to decorate and light the tree this year, and strong winds made it difficult for staff.
The tree at City Hall has outgrown city equipment over the last seven years, and it can’t support lights and decorations, she added.
The tree lighting ceremony started as a Kingman Police Department fundraiser for Special Olympics in 2007 and was moved to downtown in conjunction with the Parade of Lights in 2011.
“We had our biggest event ever this year,” Muhle reported to City Council during Tuesday’s regular meeting. “We filled all four corners at Fourth and Oak. Having been involved all 10 years, it was very rewarding and fulfilling for me to see so many people enjoy the event.”
The city Christmas tree was actually visible from Interstate 40 over buildings downtown, she noted.
Muhle said there’s a “perfectly shaped” tree at Locomotive Park directly across from the Powerhouse, though it’s not as big as the current tree.
The lighting ceremony was changed to Friday night because of the logistics involved in getting people to Locomotive Park after the parade, which is held on Saturday. The idea is to make Locomotive Park a “winter wonderland” for the weekend, Muhle said.
Mike Meersman, director of Kingman Parks and Recreation, said it takes three city employees and about $3,000 to decorate the tree.
Locomotive Park would be a better location because it would make the tree more visible for people coming through town, Meersman said, but it would cost about $5,000 to put in electrical conduit to bring in more power. Some 80 strands of new lights were donated this year.
City Councilwoman Jamie Scott Stehly said the idea is to have each tree in the park decorated by individuals, businesses and groups. She’s already volunteered to take one of the trees, and other groups have expressed interest in decorating other trees, she said.
In reference to a “winter wonderland,” Councilman Travis Lingenfelter mentioned that other communities have brought in portable ice skating rinks.
“I don’t know what the cost would be, but including that in our donation efforts would be pretty cool,” he said.