By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Dec. 3 Christmas Festival budget improves
Placeholder Image
The poor economy will not dim Christmas spirit in Ceres, pledge city officials.

Planning for the upcoming Christmas Festival, which officially opens Christmas Tree Lane on Saturday, Dec. 3, continues with unexpected funds and supplements of donations.

Christmas Tree Lane celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

At an Oct. 23 study session, the Ceres City Council determined that it wanted the annual festival to continue being staged at its traditional site at Smyrna Park.

Recreation Coordinator Traci Farris reported to the council that she found more money to help pay for the festival. Last year the city had a budget of $2,000 for the festival but Farris initially thought she only had $1,000 to spend this year. The money picture improved when she located $333 in a Walmart grant and a miscellaneous budget line of $5,485 which may be used for the festival.

Farris said she is ordering the rental of 100 more chairs than the 300 offered last year for the festival crowd to sit while being entertained by local community youth groups. The chairs will cost the city $550. She also ordered 200 dozen cookies at a cost of $650 but is asking Food4Less to donate cookies.

Concerns about short dollars prompted a discussion about eliminating horse-drawn wagon rides on opening night but the council felt that they lend to the spirit of the tradition. Farris, however, is scrambling to find a provider since George Cabral is physically unable to provide the draft horses and wagon as he has in years past.

"Some mode of transportation will be used," promised Farris.

Last month the council rejected a plan to relocate the annual festival from the Smyrna Park picnic shelter to the Community Center to save money. Smyrna Park is right next to the Fowler Road/ Henry Avenue opening of Christmas Tree Lane. Some of the savings would have been realized by reducing overtime costs for Public Works and public safety employees. However, the city will be changing shifts to avoid overtime costs, said Chief of Police/Acting City Manager Art deWerk.

The city has been brainstorming ideas with residents on Henry and Vaughn streets to alleviate problems experienced last year. They include trash, vendors selling products, theft of decorations and light bulbs, traffic congestion, and elderly residents receiving little help to decorate their homes.

The study session generated some answers, including a list of volunteers who pledged to help some older residents in decorating their homes for Christmas Tree Lane.

DeWerk said he is unsure that creating one-way traffic is the answer to traffic conflicts.

"At first glance, it poses more problems than it solves," deWerk told the council. "It may cause more demand on staff resources."

He predicted, however, a good flow of traffic with officers assigned at peak hours on Friday and Saturday evenings.

DeWerk said he will step up the presence of Volunteers in Public Safety (VIPS) and Police Explorers on weekends for traffic controls.

"The activities will be essentially restored to what they used to be."

The city has ordered two to three street sweepings per week on the two joined streets during December to help clean up debris from visitors. A total of 12 extra waste containers will be made available which will be emptied two to three times per week during the month.

The problem of vendors will be taken care of by citing those who don't have business licenses from the city.