Frederick, residents partner to light up downtown -- Gazette.Net


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Judy Russell, owner of Fabulous Finds at 24 E. Patrick St., loves Frederick’s annual holiday lights, which illuminate dozens of trees along Market and Patrick streets in the evenings.

She’s such a big fan that when a resident on the second floor of her building opted not to plug in the lights a few years ago, she took matters into her own hands to make sure her tree would be lit for the holiday.

“I ended up spending the money to have an electrician to put in an outside outlet so I didn’t have to beg the tenants,” she said, laughing. “It really looks nice if everybody participates. The lights are very memorable.”

The program is a partnership between the city, which installs the lights, and residents and businesses along the street, who allow the city to plug the lights in through their stores or homes.

Russell said she has asked her tenants on the second floor of her building to participate in the promotion for the majority of the 10 years she’s owned the store, but has plugged them in herself since 2009.

“It really is sort of magical when a lot of trees are lit,” Russell said.

The lights are plugged in by residents and business owners like Russell, who receive fliers in their mailboxes before the holidays, asking them to leave an extension cord outside for the city to plug into if they wish to participate and pay for the electricity, according to an email from Kenneth Ott, the superintendent of lights and signals for the city.

City workers began putting the lights up in the last week of September, and begin taking them down in the last week of January, Ott said.

The lights run the length of Market Street, from the intersection of Clarke Place to the intersection of Seventh Street, and on Patrick Street from the East Street intersection to the West Patrick Street parking deck, Ott said.

This year’s display includes 1,500 strings of lights, partly due to expansion after the 2010 snowstorms, which damaged hundreds of strings.

In response, residents and businesses donated $53,000 through a fundraiser. The donations allowed for the expansion on Market and Patrick streets, as well as Carroll Creek Linear Park, Ott said in an email.

Ott said about 1,088 man hours are used to install and take down the lights each year.

Russell didn’t know exactly how much the lights cost her, but said it was reasonable, and didn’t make much of an impact on her electric bill.

“It creates a lot of ambiance for downtown,” she said. “A lot of people really talk about it for a long time and tell people to come see it.”

tlaino@gazette.net