Lighting the way to early Christmas in Old Town
Merchants’ new LED display has color, energy savings

       It's Christmas in Old Colorado City a little bit earlier this year. The new, colored LED Christmas lights can be seen at dusk
this week in the 2500 block of West Colorado Avenue.
Utilities volunteers installed the lights for Old Colorado City merchants Nov. 3.
Westside Pioneer photo
       In an annual goodwill gesture Nov. 3, Colorado Springs Utilities volunteers strung garlands/lights along the avenue's light poles from 24th to 27th streets and around the branches of the 30-foot blue spruce in the Old Town Plaza shopping mall at 25th and Colorado.
       People may also notice that the lights are multi-colored this year - a switch from the all-white street/tree display of previous years. Not so noticeable is that the new bulbs are the energy-efficient LED variety.
       The lighting effort was organized by Nancy Stovall of the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) merchants group, which pays for the lights and has them strung up every year to put shoppers in a holiday mood.
       “It's Christmas in Old Colorado City” is the OCCA's seasonal marketing slogan.
       In the past, the lights have gone up around Thanksgiving.
       There was no merchant plan to start the season earlier than usual this year, according to OCCA President Jim Heikes. “We (the OCCA board) didn't even discuss it,” he said, noting that the decisions were left to Stovall, a fellow merchant and board member. But he added that the board has no problem with the earlier date. “We're glad it's being done,” he said.
       Stovall, who was contracted for the task, explained that she set the Nov. 3 date based on the Utilities volunteers' schedule. They were only available Saturdays, and her concern was that bad weather could force postponements. “I didn't want to take the chance of not having the lights up until after Thanksgiving,” she said.
       So she took the first Saturday available… and, as it turned out, the weather was sunny.
       She has heard a comment or two questioning the timing. But people need to consider what it's like in the retail world, where Christmas is the key shopping season, she said. “You can't wait for the day after Thanksgiving to do anything. Most of the stores will be getting decorated before then.”
       She's especially pleased that the new lights - representing all but 9 of the OCCA's total of about 160 strands - are LEDs. “They're hopefully brighter, bigger (C-6 or C-7 bulbs), sturdier and more energy efficient,” she said. Even though the lights will remain on all the time through the holiday season, they'll still mean an 80 percent savings on the association's Utilities bill and should pay for themselves within the three-year warranty period, she added.
       Another slightly controversial subject was the switch to multi-colored lights. They've been all white for a decade at least. Stovall said she has since heard from one merchant that the white had looked “classier.” She feels the different colors “look more like Christmas. If we left them up all year, they could be white, but we take them down after New Year's.”
       It also wasn't as if perfectly good lights got thrown away to make room for the new types. According to Stovall, most holiday lights nowadays only last about a year, so the merchants didn't have many good ones left from Christmas 2006, anyway. The nine carryover strands (all white) have been strung mostly on side streets, off the avenue, she said.

Westside Pioneer article