Excitement was almost tangible in the office of MainStreet Roswell on Tuesday. The nonprofit organization had good news to share. Main Street will get new Christmas lights this year from Fourth to First streets.
Molly Boyles, President of MainStreet Roswell, was contacted earlier this year by Wendie Marley. Marley was born and raised in Roswell and returned to her hometown four years ago after living overseas serving her country. During that time she enjoyed the lit up streets decorated in Christmas lights, just as when she lived in the Dallas area. It was a stark contrast to Roswell.
Instead of complaining and leaving it to others, Marley decided to see what she could do to bring more holiday cheer to town.
“It’s been hard,” Marley said. “It’s been a lot of movement in MainStreet Roswell. As soon as I would get a little bit further something would change. It’s just has been a back and forth and this year, with the right support and the right people, it has been able to take off.”
“Wendie had already in previous years taken steps to try to get this done and she had made progress, but like she said, she would get to a point and then time was running out,” Boyles said. “Then she had to start again and it was a whole new ballgame. Basically, there were new people and that was even the case with the MainStreet Roswell board. We had different executive directors, we had different presidents, so stuff had gotten lost in those years when she started,” Boyles said.
“When I got in touch with her after the UFO festival, she told me her ideas and the fact that she had already spoken with different people who were interested in sponsoring trees,” Boyles said. “She already had ideas of how to get the monetary things done. MainStreet Roswell is a small nonprofit, we have a lot on our plate. We have a lot of projects in the works and all of them cost money. We knew we didn’t have the money to complete a project like this.
“Basically I said, ‘Tell you what, get us all the information you can. Here are the things we need to know that you need to bring to our board. Come into a board meeting. We want this to happen, but understand that we don’t have the money. We got manpower and we got the right connections with the city, county, the building owners and the business owners. Yes, absolutely we are on board.’ She took it and ran with it,” Boyles said. She did everything that I asked her to do as far as getting information and so much more.”
Looking at the challenge, Marley asked herself, “How can we bring in the community to offset the cost for the city, to get the project going?
“I went to Xcel (Xcel Energy electric services company) to see if they wanted to be involved in it. My original plan was just to go and talk to the community of sponsoring a tree, but once I talked to Xcel and Mike McLeod, they figured that they are going to donate the lights. J & G Electric was more than willing to help, and Xcel was ending up covering that bid as well to help with the installation.
“It just happened, Marley said. “They were excited and inspired. It seems like everyone was just waiting to see how they can help and it all came together.”
According to Boyles and Marley, Xcel Energy is willing to donate 10,000 feet of Christmas lights to decorate the trees for three blocks on Main Street. The donation includes $18,000 to cover labor.
“After she spoke with Xcel, it just snowballed,” Boyles said.
“The Roswell Wool Warehouse will be the storage place for the lights for next year,” Marley said. “They didn’t even blink an eye. They said, ‘Absolutely, lets do it.’ Justin Ellis at the Builders Do it Center is donating extension cords.”
“It’s not just one group, you have to go through the city engineering, through the businesses down the street because in many cases we are utilizing the roofs of their buildings to run our extra cords,” Boyles said.
Kathy Lay, executive director of MainStreet Roswell, said, “Parks and Rec are trimming the trees for the lights. J & G Electric will follow them putting up the lights.”
A professional end product and fiscal responsibility is very important to Marley who is already planning for next year. “What are we going to do with money once we have it? We need to utilize it and handle it with care,” she said. “If people are investing, they want to see the result. They want to see it done right and not just done and forgotten about. That was important for me, to take whoever was investing in it — in this case Xcel — to make sure that we are going to do something that they are going to be proud of, money well spent.
“I probably could have gotten enough sponsors to do quite a few blocks more. But if you start big it could have easily gotten out of hand.
“Next year I want to expand it a block and hit Pioneer Plaza,” Marley said. “I can bring in the sponsorship, all I need is the green light to do it.”
Boyles encourages others to follow Marley’s example. “I don’t care what type of project it is, if one person got a passion and they reach out and find the right kind of people that they connect with, one person can make a huge difference in their neighborhood, in their city, in their county, in their state and in their nation. One person is all it takes to get the ball rolling. I really want to commend her for taking the time to do all that footwork. This is about an individual, a citizen who stepped up and did all the work and brought it to fruition.”
MainStreet Roswell is planning to decorate the light poles as well. “There is going to be room for both volunteer work or donations, as far as the wrapping of the light poles is concerned,” Boyles said. “The plan is to utilize large bows near the top, near the light fixtures and then wrap them with some type of heavy garlands. We are thinking of, for the first year, red bows and garlands. Keeping everything uniform would be more attractive.”
The lights will go up as soon as the trimming of the trees begin. Goal is to have everything up and in working order by Thanksgiving.
Lay is looking forward to the end product. “Walking downtown this year is going to be a memorable experience for the families and something that warms our hearts and makes us proud,” she said. “We are so grateful.”
For more information, contact MainStreet Roswell at 914-8018 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christina Stock may be contacted at 622-7710, ext. 309, or at email@example.com.