There’s something about a 30-foot Christ

Published 8:31 pm Friday, December 5, 2008

There’s something about a 30-foot Christmas tree with a 4-foot star on top.

Big, bold and I’m sure the Grinch would cringe if he had to take it from Whoville.

Mayor Mark Harrell lit the Christmas tree up on Thursday shortly after 7 p.m. Must have been a thrill.

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Behind him was the neat little “drive-through” leaping Christmas presents thingy that goes across the entrance of the Earle May Boat Basin. Hope a fisherman coming out from netting sucker fish all night doesn’t run over Santa’s leaping Christmas present drive-through thingy.

The Post-Searchlight had waited until 7 p.m. to drive out to the boat basin Thursday to capture that significant time in Bainbridge history when the almost $20,000 in Christmas decorations were lit, because the event’s itinerary said the eight musical groups would last for two and half hours.

“Mayor Harrell lights the tree during the final solo of ‘Oh Holy Night.’” It was to happen between 8:20 to 8:30 p.m. The event started at 6 p.m.

The whole thing was done and over with by 7 p.m.

As City Manager Chris Hobby said Friday, an hour for the event sounded more reasonable.

Also, the hired sound and light man said to add 10 minutes each time the set changed, Hobby said, so city workers added about 80 minutes to the itinerary to account for the soloist changing out with the church gospel singers. The sound and light man was paid $1,500 for his equipment and duties, despite the city’s Performing Art Building having its own sound and light equipment.

Hobby was hoping the quality would be better with the hired help.

But times are tough, and Hobby said Friday the city is under a hiring freeze and all capital, vehicle and equipment purchases are on hold.

In the first two months of this fiscal year, which started on Oct. 1, sales tax revenue is off by 8 percent from last year’s collections—collecting only $352,809 in October and November, down $30,880 from last year’s $383,689.

The 8.3 unemployment rate in Decatur County is outpacing the national average of 6.7 percent, which is the worst in 34 years.

Earlier this week, laid-off American Fibers and Yarns employees were using the Performing Arts Building to begin the process of acquiring new job training.

Times are tough, but there’s something special about a 30-foot Christmas tree and a drive-through thingy that costs $20,000.

That something special is it’s bought and paid for by taxpayers. Hope you like it.