We all have them, the photo of a beautiful child exuding the purest of joy while participating in your tree lighting ceremony. The event may change, swap out parade, festival or ice rink, but we all know the photo. It is virtually effortless to capture that moment.
However, getting to that moment is anything but effortless. Right now, the majority of our districts are in the throes of executing our holiday programming. Depending on our budgets and districts, we either oversee contracts or grab the ladders ourselves. Parks are being decorated with lighting elements, bows, interactive displays, ice rinks and shopping villages. Streets are being lined with large ornaments and placemaking elements. The order for the parade is being finalized, and units are receiving their staging times. As with all programming, hiccups are being solved… that tree that marked the end of the street décor had to be removed because of an infestation over the summer; your usual Santa got COVID and you are renting a red suit to adorn a staff member; the chiller for the rink lost power overnight and you now have a slushy on opening day. If it can happen, it will happen.
We all do placemaking and programming throughout the year, but the holidays seem much more intense. Before the menorah is lit, we have logged hundreds of hours of nail-biting, back-breaking work. We are preparing our downtowns to be the backdrop of the most priceless memories. Decades from now, families will look at photos from a flash point in our downtowns over the next eight weeks. No pressure.
I encourage you to pause and take a moment to recognize the gift you are giving to your community. You are transforming your place from its standard to something extraordinary and offering families and visitors a chance to exhale and enjoy the slower pace. You are building a seasonal destination that will boost the bottom line for your merchants and pump up the tax revenue for your city. Thank you to everyone who is currently consumed by coordinating the perfect holiday experience. In short order, a young child will lose themself in blowing snow under a canopy of glimmering lights on your main street. Take a deep breath and enjoy it. You are setting the stage for magic.