Years ago there was talk of dressing the many urban trees of Bolton Ave and Downtown Alexandria with white lights. This is not to say we want to go the Natchitoches route and start looking like someone crapped Christmas all over us (no afront to Natchitoches — I love your Christmas crap).
However we need something — well lots of things to liven up our downtown area. We also need to draw people there, to give them something special and a nice sedate classy white light show would do that.
We have some other great features from our downtown areas that would look great illuminated. The Rapides Parish and Federal Courthouses are considered some of the best examples of Art Deco public works in the country. They are beautiful structures with massive pale facades. Currently they do very little for downtown aesthetically, but imagine if these structures were illuminated with color changing light shining upon them. What a great welcome from the interstate that would be and what a cheap development option. This approach has been recently deployed here in New Orleans with Hotel le’Cirque at Lee Circle and of course with the historic lighting of the Hibernia Bank (Capitol One) tower in the Central Business District. And of course anyone who has been to New York has delighted in the illuminated spire of the Empire State Building.
The city also had a great idea several years ago when they hung strands of lights from the Light Poles along the top of the Red River Levee. These rainbow cones are quite a happy site and I’m always sad to see them go with the holiday lights each year. Whether in colors or in white lights, these festive spires make for a great accentuation of the beauty of our river as it curves its way through the metro area.
I would propose that we leave these lights on year-round and in fact expand the ‘cones’ along the entire riverfront and ask Pineville to match them on the other side. They really say Welcome — come walk near me!
Ok, back to my trees! I think a really simple way to approach this is an Adopt-a-tree program. Why not?
It’s simple, the lights themselves are nothing more than super cheap white outdoor christmas lights. All we have to do is have the city tell us what it costs to run those lights at night for a year and to install the initial electrical outlet. Say if it’s $100 per tree.
OK, so we ask people, churches, business, and organizations to adopt a tree. Make it theirs and come decorate it with lights. It’s now their tree, they have a stake in downtown. They get to hang a nifty plaque near it and show how much they love us all.
That’s it, no big studies, no contractors, no EPA mandates. A hundred bucks, a pack of bulbs, and an awesome looking downtown to go walking through safely at night.