Elizabethton Holiday Lighting Committee member Joe Alexander reflects on how Downtown lights have progressed

Published 2:40 pm Tuesday, December 28, 2021

BY NIC MILLER
STAR STAFF
nic.miller@elizabethton.com

While the lights in Downtown Elizabethton are a draw for the holiday season, Joe Alexander remembers a time when shining lights during the holiday season were just an idea.

“The lights have been a part of Downtown Elizabethton since 1998,” said Alexander, who serves on the Downtown Elizabethton Lighting Committee. “And the effort was started by Harvey Anderson, who was on the city council at the time. He got a group of people, including people from the chamber and several other businesses, to come up with a lighting plan for the downtown area.

“Every year since the lights have been installed, the city and the Electric Department have made significant contributions to the effort, which is helpful because it takes around $8,000 a year to put them up, store them, and put new bulbs in them,” said Alexander.

And while the Christmas lights have been a part of Downtown Elizabethton for over 20 years, there have been some recent changes to the decorations.

“Three or four years ago, the lights were getting into pretty bad shape due to rusting and things of that nature, which led us to start a refurbishment project. The lights that go on the poles, people could pay around $125 to help us refurbish those, and local businesses were able to sponsor the ground displays which were around $750 a piece.”

Alexander said that the project was an initial success, with all of the Christmas lights being sponsored.

“We have just about finished up the refurbishment project, as we only lack three ground displays that still need to be done. It is a labor intensive process, but we hope to have those finished by next season.”

With so many advancements within the Downtown Lighting Project, Alexander said that he is still hoping to make more changes.

“One thing that I would like to see in the future is to be able to have all of the bulbs lighting the fixtures switched to LED bulbs, rather than the incandescent bulbs we have now. However, the LED bulbs cost around $1 to $1.25, so that would be an expensive project due to how many lights there are. The LED bulbs use a lot less energy and also last a lot longer, so those are some reasons we would like to have those,” Alexander said.

Along with contributions from the Electric Department and the City of Elizabethton, Alexander said that donations are accepted and can be either brought to or mailed to his office, Alexander Insurance Agency, at 612 East Elk Avenue in Elizabethton.