Holiday Lights Out for Second Year in Downtown Ames

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AMES, Iowa—It’s an important time of year for small businesses, and shop owners in downtown Ames say something could make their season brighter.

It’s a busy time of year on main street in Ames. Andrea Gronau with Worldly Goods said, “We love all the people coming in, browsing, shopping, looking for the perfect holiday gifts.”

The stores are decked out, the snowflakes are twinkling, but if you look up, something is missing. Cindy Hicks, Main Street Cultural District Executive Director, said, “For the 2nd year in a row, we haven’t been able to turn on the lights that line the tops of the buildings in downtown Ames.”

The lights lining the tops of the buildings on Main Street are nearly 25 years old. The lights don’t work. The Main Street Cultural District is raising money for a modern system. Hicks said, “The goal is to raise $80,000, which seems like a lot, but what we’re looking at is LED lights. They change colors.”

The store owners say the lights would really help during the holiday season, but it’s a project designed for the entire year. Hicks said, “We could use them on ISU game day, we could have them all red. We could have them red, white, and blue for the 4th of July holiday, and then just white or the rest of the time during the year. More light means more safety.”

The group of downtown business owners has raised $18,000 so far. It’s asking the city, and the Convention and Visitors Bureau for grants, along with asking community members to chip in. Gronau said, “The money now is the most important thing so we can get the lights on by the next holiday season.”

Judy Gilger with Gilger Designs said, “What is more festive than lights? And, we are trying to replace and update the lights and bring in more color.”

The group chose Innovative Lighting in nearby Roland to install the lights. They’d really like the system up by March. Hicks said you can send a tax deductible donation to the Ames Foundation, PO Box 213, Ames, Iowa 50010.

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