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Council feels vendors spoiled spirit of Christmas Tree Lane

As far as the Ceres City Council is concerned, the vendors who were selling their wares on Henry and Vaughn streets during the run of Christmas Tree Lane last month spoiled the experience.

"I received complaints from people that there's hot chocolate, there's popcorn being sold, there's those light sabers," said Councilwoman Linda Ryno. She noted that there was a similar problem a few years ago which was addressed.

"I just want to be sure that when it rolls around this year that we're prepared to do something about it."

City Manager Toby Wells said city staff can get out the word that such vending is not allowed and have ways to deal with it.

Vice Mayor Mike Kline also heard complaints that some were capitalizing on the festive spirit made possible by the giving people who decorate their yards. "It is a free service," Kline said of the residents on Christmas Tree Lane. "Those people do it themselves. They put up their lights and they open up everything and put up with traffic for 30 days and for people to profit off it is very discouraging for them. Councilmember Ryno isn't the only one who heard numerous complaints."

Councilman Ken Lane said he saw cotton candy and balloons being sold.

"I thought I was going down Main Street in Disneyland at times but I think it's something that should be addressed," said Lane.

He suggested the problem be addressed through the Christmas Tree Lane Committee.

Also during the Jan. 9 council meeting, Ryno asked if the city could decorate the trees in Whitmore Park with Christmas lights next December as she recently saw a small town in Idaho do while on a recent trip there. The town also pipes in Christmas music to add to the ambiance.

"I don't know what, or if, we could do to start something like that. We have everyone driving up and down 99 and it's just a really cool thing to look at."

She suggested the idea of community groups adopting a tree to fund the lights.

Wells said the electrical system in the park is "old and tired" and would need to be upgraded. That was confirmed by city Public Works Director Jeremy Damas who said the park has one conduit running to the gazebo. In 2015 the Garden Club wanted to put up lights but to do so had portable generators installed and string extention cords.

"It's doable," said Damas. "We have to run a whole new power circuit and everything from the old restrooms out. It's just time and money."

Wells said the council would have to include the project in the budget process.

The item came minutes after Ryno talked about the need for the city to curb expenses.