Economic Development and Travel & Tourism

Holidays light up Grand Rapids

November 14, 2013
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Holidays light up downtown
The Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority is spending $45,000 on holiday décor in downtown this year. Photo via flickr.com

The mayor’s spirit clearly picked up when he was told a lot of lights would be part of downtown’s $45,000 holiday décor this year.

Really, a lot of lights.

Lights

The decoration plan will string bunches of commercial grade LED lights on most trees and light poles in and around Monroe Center in downtown Grand Rapids.

Twenty-one birch trees and 11 oak trees in Rosa Parks Circle will be lit, as well as 52 trees and 52 light poles along Monroe Center, the district’s mainstreet.

The plan also includes installing a 13-foot “crystal tree” in Louis Campau Square.

Every tree and pole should be lit by Nov. 22, and the decoration program may get expanded to other corridors in the district next year.

Window designs

Fifty-eight students from the Kendall College of Art and Design at Ferris State University and Grand Valley State University will also decorate the windows of 20 downtown stores in a competition that will pay the winning design team $1,000.

The public will select what it considers to be the best-decorated window.

“One purpose of this promotion is to show students how their design talents could lead to a commercial career,” said Kristopher Larsen, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority.

Holiday bid

The DDA is behind the holiday lighting of downtown, as the board agreed to spend up to $45,000 to decorate the district for the upcoming holiday shopping season.

“We are looking at introducing an expanded lighting program,” Larsen said. “We had budgeted $50,000 for this year, and we’re spending $45,000.”

The DDA received three bids to decorate downtown and two came from out-of-state companies.

When the dust settled, DeVries Landscape of Jenison won the contract.

The agreement also requires the company to remove and store the decorations once the season passes.

”The lights are warranted for three years or 30,000 hours. The lights are commercial-grade LEDs,” said Bill Pringle, owner and president of DeVries Landscape, which has been in business for 48 years.

The money for decorations will come from the DDA’s non-tax fund, which is largely the revenue the board gets from its parking lots.

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