Park Board approves contract for holiday lights display

Santa in his sleigh fronts an illuminated castle Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, along the Avenue of Lights display in Wavering Park. A new organization is proposing to reestablish a display in Moorman and Wavering parks starting this year. | H-W File Photo
Phil Carlson
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Sep. 12, 2019 12:01 am

QUINCY -- A group looking to bring back a drive-thru holiday lights display in Moorman and Wavering parks received approval.

The Quincy Park Board approved a one-year agreement with Festival of Lights Inc. Wednesday night.

Eric Dooley of Festival of Lights said plans call for more than 350 items in the parks in the first year.

"Our goal is to make sure that display is more exciting than the year before, and we feel really comfortable and confident with our display, and we hope that it's a display we can be proud of, the park can be proud of and the community can be proud of," Dooley said.

Commissioner Roger Leenerts expressed concerns over some assumptions in the group's business plan, but he said the potential benefits outweighed his concerns.

"It could be very good with traffic coming in the community, people want this thing, and it could be good for business," Leenerts said.

The display will be similar to Avenue of Lights, which offered a drive-thru Christmas display in the two parks for 15 years before shutting down after the 2014 season.

Park District Executive Director Rome Frericks said he was happy to see Bob Scott of the former Avenue of Lights groups assisting Festival of Lights, but he added that the public shouldn't expect it to be exactly the same as Avenue of Lights.

"It took them 16 years to grow to the display they had at the end," Frericks said. "The public just needs to be patient and enjoy the first year, and if everything goes smoothly, we'll come back next year with a three-year agreement and let them continue to grow bigger each year."

Dooley said Scott has been a mentor to the organization throughout the entire process.

"It means the road map to success is already there," he said. "He's paved the way with the Avenue of Lights."

The agreement, which is similar to the one the district had with Avenue of Lights, calls for Festival of Lights to be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the displays and to cover the electricity costs -- just over $5,000 in 2014.

The cost to the district comes from potential snow and ice removal.

Festival of Lights has requested that traffic to Upper Moorman be closed to traffic after the Early Tin Dusters Car show in mid-October to set up the light displays.

The district will accommodate the request except for shelter reservations, and the remainder of the park will shut down to vehicular traffic on Nov. 1.

Festival of Lights plans to open Thanksgiving night.

In other business, commissioners approved the low bid of $58,403 from Bergman Nursery for landscaping work at Clat Adams Bicenntennial Park.

The work was sought after floods this spring left substantial silt in the landscaping beds and killed many of the plants.

Director of Parks Matt Higley said district staff will reseed the park.

Money for the work is coming from the district's liability fund. The district has spent about $15,600 on flood recovery this year.

The Park Board also approved a resolution supporting the extension of the tax increment financing West District for another 12 years. The city of Quincy is seeking resolutions from the various taxing bodies for the extension, which requires approval from state lawmakers.