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Downtown a spectacle of lights
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Bringing joy to McMinnville is the rainbow of Christmas colors in historic downtown. This years decorating took eight weeks, ending Dec. 1 after the placement of 75,000 lights.

Historic downtown is officially lit up like a Christmas tree, if the evergreen had 75,000 lights on it.

“We placed an additional 20,000 lights this year,” said city landscape manger Hank Patton, bringing the total up to 75,000 from last year’s 55,000.

Lights were added around the fountain, on The Lot with Santa and his sleigh, and in the walkway connecting Main Street to the Farmers Market.

“We didn’t do anything on the breezeway to the Farmers Market last year,” said Patton. “We really wanted to add some there. We’re always thinking about how to do better, make things different, and add to last year. I think the breezeway is cute.”
The city was given the sleigh and reindeer.

“The sleigh and reindeer were donated to us by Steve Jones. We put lights on it and put it up. We had a Santa and it worked great with it. Our Santa was lonesome and now he’s part of the festivities. I saw people taking pictures with him. That was wonderful to see. Santa is happy.”

All good things must come to an end when it comes to decorating.

“We finally ran out of time and money,” said Patton. “We finished the decorations Friday before the parade. If we hadn’t run out of time and money, we might have gone over to the courthouse and added more lights there. Maybe we can do that next year. There’s another thing I’m working on, but I’m not going to divulge it. It can be a secret for next year.”
City employees began the light installation the second week in October.

“I had people telling me we were putting the lights up too soon. If we had waited, we wouldn’t have gotten everything up in time,” said Patton. “It took close to eight weeks to get everything in place. We finished Friday. When I came into work Monday, I forgot what I normally did before that process began. My entire focus for eight weeks was putting up lights. It was good to see people down there enjoying it during Christmas in the Park.”

Residents have what remains of 2017 to enjoy the lights, which will be turned on nightly until after the New Year’s celebration ushers in 2018.