Winter Wonderland new to downtown
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[November 04, 2019]
While downtown merchant Kathie Williams of Small Town Creations has
been heavily involved in downtown holiday planning and the huge
Small Business Saturday event taking place on November 30th in
Lincoln, she claims no credit for that. But, a new activity sure to
become a favorite for years to come, ‘Winter Wonderland,’ is her
baby and one that she is very excited about.
Again, Williams looked to the past and hopes for the future. She
said that she can remember the days when Christmas on the square was
special and she wants it to be special again.
She thought about the trees quite some time ago and felt it would be
really nice to bring a festival of trees of sorts to the heart of
the city. Noting that holidays are sometimes hard for folks,
especially when it is the first after a loss, a big part of her hope
is that bringing the trees to the city will help some in their
healing process by giving them the opportunity to remember loved
The trees will be placed on the west side of the Logan County
Courthouse, lining the sidewalks around the two side yards on that
side of the courthouse. Each tree will have a sign placed at the
foot of the tree, and options include putting up a tree “in memory
of” a loved one. The second option will be a simple “Season’s
Greetings ….” from area businesses or individuals.
Williams said when she came up with the idea she didn’t know it
would be so complicated. She had thought that she could get the
trees and “just put them out there.” Then she did her research and
discovered that she would need to have approval from the Logan
County Board. She also needed someone to assist with the handling of
the money for the trees.
Williams said she wanted to take Small Town Creations out of the
equation when it came to the money. She didn’t want anyone to get
the idea that she was doing this for her own profit, because there
is zero profit in this project, it’s all about doing something
special in Lincoln.
Her first step was to solicit the help of the Logan County Tourism
Bureau. Williams serves on the board at the LCTB, and she took her
ideas to the board at the September meeting. She said that she
needed to have someone else control the money and asked if the board
would be willing to do that. The board agreed and the Lincoln
Initiative Fund was set up for taking the tree money and paying the
bills that would be incurred for the trees. People wanting to
sponsor a tree for this year need to hurry, and they can do so by
going into Small Town Creations.
Because there is no Chamber of Commerce in Lincoln, the LCTB has
taken on projects like this. The goal according to Director Morgan
Gleason is to assist in projects that will ‘better the community’
and promote visitors to the area, regardless of whether or not they
While addressing the LCTB about her ideas, the two Logan County
Board members on the tourism board also offered some helpful
Jim Wessbecher was concerned about how the trees would be placed. He
noted that those who buy the trees are going to want ‘front row’
exposure for their tree. He suggested that the trees not be placed
in rows where there were some in front and some in back. The
solution to that was to line the sidewalks of the two side yards so
that every tree is facing outward and all have equal exposure.
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Emily Davenport thought it was a great idea, but warned Williams that this was
something that could grow beyond the courthouse in years to come. Williams hopes
that it does indeed, but for the first year, she has set a limit of 40 trees,
with 25 of those already claimed.
Williams gained permission of the Logan County Board for the use of the lawn.
The county board was gracious and very supportive. They addressed liability and
litter concerns and offered input on some of the rules that should be
established for the decorating of the trees.
The main concern of the board was that objects placed on the trees would blow
off in the wind and cause clutter around the courthouse lawn. To that end, the
ornaments used may not be glass, and they have to be securely fastened to the
trees (wiring to the branches is recommended). There are also restrictions on
using edible ornaments because of the birds and restrictions against using
tinsel on the trees. The courthouse lawn has electric connections available.
Each tree may have two strands of lights, and Williams is working on providing
the extension cords for the lights.
The trees will be placed by the Land of Lincoln CEO group on Saturday, November
23rd. Decorating can then begin on Sunday, November 24th and must be completed
no later than Friday, November 29th.
On the evening of Friday, Nov. 29th, there will be an official tree lighting
ceremony with the time to be announced, but probably around 5:30 p.m. The
community will be invited to attend the ceremony and enjoy the first evening of
the Winter Wonderland.
All told, Williams sees the downtown activities as the start of something really
great in Lincoln. She is thoroughly excited about the response of the downtown
business owners/managers and feels that it has been a very positive step for all
toward forming a bond of support for one another.
She is also very appreciative of the LCTB Board and Gleason for their support.
Again, this is another show of unity in the community and a demonstration of how
there are many people in the area who want to make Lincoln a special place and
see the return of a thriving economy.
A few weeks ago Lincoln College President Dr. David Gerlach was at a Lincoln
City Council to introduce a new economic development group for Lincoln. Quoting
John Quincy Adams, Gerlach said, “’Who will fill the void of the loss of
economic development in this community?’ with Adams answering, ‘We the people.’”
One small voice can start an avalanche.
Good luck to all the small businesses who are working so hard to revive
something special in our community. We encourage everyone to shop local and to
shop Small Business Saturday in Lincoln on Saturday, November 30th!
For more information about Small Business Saturday or to purchase a tree contact
Small Town Creations at 115 South Kickapoo Street, phone 217-737-1634.
Information can also be obtained at the Logan County Tourism Bureau by calling
217-732-8687 or visiting 101 North Chicago Street in Lincoln.