Sarah Stultz: Consider giving to holiday lights campaign

Published 10:00 pm Monday, February 12, 2018

Nose for News, By Sarah Stultz

Growing up in a much bigger community than Albert Lea, I think it was easy to take for granted all of the many amenities we enjoyed, whether it was parks, restaurants or even something as simple as Christmas lights.

As I grew older, attended college and went out on my own, I started learning more and more that we have to take an active part in things we want to see something happen — especially in smaller communities, where sometimes there are fewer resources.

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Everybody can get involved in whatever capacity they choose, whether it’s through civic groups, youth organizations, community events or nonprofit organizations.

For the past four weeks, a group of Albert Lea residents, including myself, have met with Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen once a week to figure out what we can do to spruce up downtown Albert Lea for the holiday season. Our group was prompted to meet particularly after seeing an outcry on social media of people who were disappointed in seeing our community’s decorations and looking back at how things used to be in the past.

It’s true. Our decorations had declined over the years as things wore out and times changed. But instead of wallowing and pointing fingers, we decided it felt better to get involved and try to bring positive change.

We brainstormed and looked through catalogs of ideas for decorations and are now launching a campaign to raise $75,000 for new lights and decorations to help our downtown shine in the Christmas season and winter months.

We have divided the campaign into four project areas:

• New banners, lighted garlands and wreaths downtown

• Lighted decorations in the splash pad area

• Holiday and special event lighting for the Fountain Lake Park Gazebo

• Year-round accent lighting for downtown on trees, etc.

We challenge individuals and businesses who would like to get involved to use this as an opportunity to be a positive agent for change.

We are looking for businesses that might consider making a sizable matching donation. All donations $250 and higher will be recognized on a banner.

To find out more about our project, look for updates on our Facebook page “Spruce up Albert Lea for Christmas,” and consider donating online at or through the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber Foundation. Donations are tax-deductible.

Downtown is already beautiful during the summer. Let’s spread that throughout the year!

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Tuesday.