Foundation's Christmas lights grant initiative brightens Old Colorado City
If Old Colorado City looks a bit brighter this holiday season, it's because of a concentrated effort to make it that way.
The Old Colorado City Foundation (OCCF) started a grant program this fall, offering to pay $50 of the utility bill for any merchant agreeing to put up Christmas lights outside their stores.
“We wanted to encourage people to brighten up the avenue,” said Dave Brackett, who recently became the OCCF president. “The idea was to make Old Colorado City a destination - a place where shoppers would say, 'Look at the lights.'”
Started five years ago as a charitable arm of the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group, the OCCF is funded through donations and major events such as its annual Taste of OCC. The foundation has previously focused on Bancroft Park upgrades, but its scope encompasses in the historic shopping district as a whole.
“The foundation wants to do things to benefit the neighborhood and the avenue,” elaborated Lauren Ripko, a marketer who organized the 2017 Taste event last April. She added that the Christmas-lights grant idea resulted from OCCF brainstorming for ways to "create more of a holiday vibe.”
Close to 20 business owners agreed to the offer, Ripko reported. The deadline was Dec. 1.
The proposal was sent out to OCCA members by the group's executive director, Karen Cullen. No rules were placed on the types of lights. The only parameters were that the display “must enhance your storefront,” Cullen's e-mail said.
In addition to individual stores' lighting, Old Colorado City flaunts seasonal displays in the public right of way (sponsored by the OCCA; attached to light poles by Colorado Springs Utilities volunteers) and by individual merchants (placed on various bushes and trees in front of stores).
The illumination efforts may be proving effective. Although lacking any specific numbers, OCCA President Julie Fabrizio said it's her impression that sales have been up for most Old Town businesses this December.
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