Village workers teetered on ladders at each light pole in the village Wednesday morning, fiddling with the large new Christmas decorations that will grace their narrow streets this holiday season.
“They’re not that heavy,” said Steve Chase as he tried to jimmy a bolt into place with one hand while balancing eight feet off the pavement, “just sort of awkward.”
The early morning installation marked the end of two years of hard work for the Canajoharie-Palatine Chamber of Commerce. Janine Nelson and Dolores Jacksland from the chamber came to help put their handiwork in place. Even village Mayor Francis Avery showed up to lend a reluctant hand, helping the ladies wrap each light pole in garland, grumbling good-naturedly throughout.
“They’ll be here for hours,” he said, “but I have to go sign paychecks or there will be a revolt.”
“He’s the original humbug,” Jacksland said.
For her, completing the project was quite a victory. She used every event in her fundraising arsenal — from historic home tours to silent auctions and bake sales — to scrape together the money for the new decorations. Each one cost several hundred dollars, and with 30 lining Church, Erie and Main streets, it was quite a task.
At her recent birthday party — she refused to admit which year — Jacksland even asked her guests to donate to the chamber’s Christmas fund rather than bring her gifts.
The decorations themselves were custom-designed by Experience and Creative Design in Schenectady and locally made of light-gauge aluminum and shiny round balls. The sun and lamp light glints in every direction as the apparatus flexes in the wind,
No electricity is needed, so it’s green, and the village can finally stop buying strings of twinkling lights year after year.
“I’ve had people tell me they look like a Dr. Seuss creation,” Nelson said, “and other people tell me they look like a classic chandelier.”
Over the months of fundraising and design, some village residents didn’t approve of the large aluminum design. When the chamber put up a sample near the dummy light at the center of the village and held a Facebook vote, only about half the responders approved.
While the chamber raised the funds independently, it did want approval from the village Board of Trustees. The design was narrowly approved and last year they put just a few up, ordering more for this season.
“People really liked them once they were actually up,” Nelson said, adding that a festive air in the village not only brightens the mood of the locals but can prompt tourists passing through to stop.
Aside from replacement of a few cheap garlands and some red bows, the decorations will require little or no maintenance for years.
“They’re timeless,” Nelson said.