What started as an idea to try and spruce up the Downtown Area of Mexico just a bit for the Christmas season, has now turned into a try to spruce up the community spirit of the Christmas season.
The Decorate Downtown Mexico committee is trying to do just that this Christmas season. This Saturday, starting with the annual Christmas Parade, the committee will see some of its ideas come to life.
Chris Newbrough and his wife, Pearl, are heading up the effort to get the job done. They formed a committee back in March to begin working on ideas.
“We were very small in the beginning,” Chris said. “I think we had six to seven members. Initially, it was my wife, me, Carol Senor, Ron Sterrett, Guy Chase, Melody and Pat Farnen and councilman Chris Williams.”
By July, the committee was stagnant in growth with members and with ideas that would require more help than the small group of Christmas lovers could provide themselves, so, they held a party.
“We decided to host a ‘Christmas in July’ reception,” Newbrough said. “We used the Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce offices and just took over the place. Through a generous donation of four pallets of Christmas decorations from Brookstone here in Mexico, we spruced up the place and made it look like Christmas! It was a huge success and from that reception, we gained 18 new members to the committee.”
With the new infusion of help, the committee started seeing its ideas come to life. Newbrough approached numerous community organizations to try and raise money to buy lights to put on the tops of the buildings on the Mexico square.
With help from the Mexico City Council, the Village Square Association, the Kiwanis Club, the Rotary Club, the Jaycees and several private donors, the committee was able to raise the nearly $3,000 needed to buy the lights.
“Through the committee, we found Rick’s Electric, who agreed to hook up our lights once we got them bought.”
Buying the lights turned out to be the easiest part of the job. Newbrough says it soon became apparent they needed to figure out how to get them strung on the tops of the buildings.
“We were able to get permission from most of the businesses and building owners to get on their roofs to install the lights,” he said. “But, if it hadn’t been for Consolidated Electric and Ameren Missouri crews, and them using their bucket trucks, it would have been a much tougher task. I can’t say enough about the help we got from them. They are responsible for making sure that got done.”
Another idea to come out of the committee was to take over the Mini-Park on the east side of the square and decorate it.
“We decided to move the Santa House into the park and make it a Winter Wonderland for kids to enjoy with Christmas trees and other decorations for them to look at while waiting to see the big guy.” Newbrough says the largest sub-committee of volunteers took the idea to decorate and ran with it. He says it’s definitely a treat to the eye.
“It turned out pretty much the way my wife and I envisioned it! We are so excited to see resident’s reaction to the park,” he says. “It took several Saturdays and several week nights for the committee to get the job done and, for them to give up that personal time, Pearl and I are so grateful! I think residents are going to love the addition!”
The committee also took on the task of organizing the annual Christmas parade through downtown Mexico from the Village Square Association. Newbrough says the parade committee has really done a great job of getting a wide variety of organizations to participate this year.
“We’ve got several new organizations, churches and government entities entered this year,” he says. “This year, we are bringing back the float contest with first, second and third place with a cash prize for each. Thanks go out to Show Me Credit Union for sponsoring the cash prizes and to Commerce Bank for sponsoring the plaques for each.”
“The parade will step off at 3:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon and go south on Washington Street, east on Promenade and north on Jefferson Street.” Newbrough says it will end at the park on Jefferson Street where Santa will draw it to a close on the last float.
“On that float, we will have the winners from an essay contest we sponsored through the local elementary schools in Mexico. Three winners will ride on the float with Santa for the entire parade as their prize for writing the winning essays. Don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, that would have been the coolest thing!”
The parade is not the end of the festivities, though.
“After the parade, we will have a lighting ceremony for the lights on the buildings and the Mini-Park,” he said. “The hope is the crowd for the parade will stick around for that and join in kicking off the Christmas season in Mexico.” He says the lighting ceremony should start at about 5 p.m. Saturday evening, with the lights being turned on at about 5:15 p.m.
“Between the end of the parade and the start of the lighting ceremony, we will have special entertainment to entertain the crowd. Noteworthy, the specialty choir from Mexico High School, will perform holiday tunes and Alyse Giboney will play her guitar for the crowd. Also, a group of community-minded musicians will be walking around all afternoon playing Christmas favorites! It’s gonna be so cool!”
The events don’t end there. Newbrough says on the evening of Thursday, December 12, the committee is sponsoring a Living Windows evening for residents using storefronts of some of the downtown businesses.
“I’m really looking forward to this event,” Newbrough said. “Area organizations and groups will stage scenes in the windows with actual people based around our theme of ‘An Old-Fashioned, Hometown Christmas.”
Newbrough says also that Santa will be in his house each Thursday evening from 5-7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 p.m. in the morning to 2 p.m. in the afternoon throughout the Christmas season.
He hopes not just Mexico residents make it to Downtown Mexico this Saturday afternoon. “This was done with Mexico residents, primarily,” he admits. “But, we want to see people from all over Mid-Missouri come into town and help us celebrate the start of the Christmas season.”