15 Sep 2014
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UPDATE: Holiday Decorations Removed from Parts of Downtown

Garland on gazebo, Main Street Bridge put up for Festival of Lights only

UPDATE: Holiday Decorations Removed from Parts of Downtown UPDATE: Holiday Decorations Removed from Parts of Downtown UPDATE: Holiday Decorations Removed from Parts of Downtown

That was fast.

Some of the new holiday decorations put up in downtown Kent this year have already been taken down.

Garland that hung from the Downtown Gazebo and the railings of the Main Street Bridge during Saturday's Festival of Lights was removed by Sunday afternoon.

Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala said the decorations were removed over fears that vandals might rip down the easily accessible garland or, worse, throw it from the bridge into the icy Cuyahoga River.

"The main idea was decorating the bridge and the gazebo ... to welcome Santa Claus and all the kids downtown Saturday night for lighting up the town," Fiala said.

Lori Wemhoff, director of the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored the lights festival, said the decorations that were removed were donated to the Kent Parks and Recreation Department specifically just for the festival with the intent of taking them down immediately afterward.

"Volunteers from the city’s central maintenance department and budget and finance spent hours putting them up on Saturday — on their own time," Wemhoff said.

The decorations that were removed were not part of a $65,000 upgrade to the Kent Christmas scene that included garlands connecting Main and Water streets, large snowflakes on lamp posts, lights along Acorn Alley and a 16-foot tall animated Santa Claus on top of Acorn Corner.

The two-year upgrade project, which will include more lights along Erie and Depeyster streets after renovations along those streets are finished, is mostly the work of Main Street Kent, the city and a consortium of businesses, individuals and organizations.

Most of the decorations remain, such as the garland above the intersections and the new snowflakes on the lamp posts.

Fiala said the goal is to preserve the garland for future years, when Kentities will likely only see it up during the annual Festival of Lights.

Like many residents, the mayor said he would prefer to see the garland remain throughout the holiday season but understands the need to preserve it.

"I had a lot of calls on that (Monday)," he said.

Editor's note: this story was updated at 11:10 a.m.

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