BERLIN – Berlin is kicking off Christmas as America’s Coolest Small Town with its first new decorations in more than two decades.
Those heading into town will notice new holiday signs hanging above the main entrances to the town. The traditional “Noel” messages that greeted visitors for the past 26 years have been replaced.
“They were pretty much wire tied together,” said Tim Lawrence, head of the town’s electric department. “They were pretty worn out.”
Earlier this year town officials approved spending $12,000 to purchase six new “skyline” signs. Lawrence worked with Megan Houston, the town’s Main Street coordinator, to select the new snowflake signs. Two of the signs are lit by LED bulbs, which use less energy than traditional bulbs. Lawrence said that while it was too expensive to purchase six LED signs all at once, the town was planning to replace the bulbs on the signs that were not LED with the energy saving bulbs eventually.
“As the bulbs burn out, we’ll replace them with LED bulbs,” he said.
Lawrence’s crew has also been busy wrapping the town’s light poles with garland and strings of lights. Those lights, as well as the ones that will be on the Christmas tree in front of the Atlantic Hotel, will all be LED lights this year.
“The LEDs cost more but they conserve energy,” Lawrence said.
An added benefit to the LED lights is that their bulbs are stronger and less breakable.
“They’re pretty indestructible,” Lawrence said, adding that his staff had replaced 500 of the traditional bulbs on the downtown decorations last year.
Although the town’s holiday lights should all be in place by the end of this week, they won’t be lit until just before Thanksgiving. The town’s official Christmas tree lighting will take place at 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 28, on Holiday Arts Night.
Helen Wiley, chair of the Main Street Berlin Design Committee, said the town’s tree will be cut at a local farm and set up next week. She said her committee is putting extra effort into decorating the tree this year and will be adding new decorations and garland.
“We’re trying to make the tree really special because Berlin’s the coolest small town,” she said.