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UPDATE: Holiday Decorations Removed from Parts of Downtown

Garland on gazebo, Main Street Bridge put up for Festival of Lights only

That was fast.

Some of the new holiday decorations put up in downtown Kent this year have already been taken down.

Garland that hung from the Downtown Gazebo and the railings of the Main Street Bridge during Saturday's Festival of Lights was removed by Sunday afternoon.

Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala said the decorations were removed over fears that vandals might rip down the easily accessible garland or, worse, throw it from the bridge into the icy Cuyahoga River.

"The main idea was decorating the bridge and the gazebo ... to welcome Santa Claus and all the kids downtown Saturday night for lighting up the town," Fiala said.

Lori Wemhoff, director of the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored the lights festival, said the decorations that were removed were donated to the Kent Parks and Recreation Department specifically just for the festival with the intent of taking them down immediately afterward.

"Volunteers from the city’s central maintenance department and budget and finance spent hours putting them up on Saturday — on their own time," Wemhoff said.

The decorations that were removed were not part of a $65,000 upgrade to the Kent Christmas scene that included garlands connecting Main and Water streets, large snowflakes on lamp posts, lights along Acorn Alley and a 16-foot tall animated Santa Claus on top of Acorn Corner.

The two-year upgrade project, which will include more lights along Erie and Depeyster streets after renovations along those streets are finished, is mostly the work of Main Street Kent, the city and a consortium of businesses, individuals and organizations.

Most of the decorations remain, such as the garland above the intersections and the new snowflakes on the lamp posts.

Fiala said the goal is to preserve the garland for future years, when Kentities will likely only see it up during the annual Festival of Lights.

Like many residents, the mayor said he would prefer to see the garland remain throughout the holiday season but understands the need to preserve it.

"I had a lot of calls on that (Monday)," he said.

Editor's note: this story was updated at 11:10 a.m.

Char December 04, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Sad...no longer a family town. Cater..cater cater to KSU and the students w/all the new bells, whistles, bars, "adult" oriented restaurants but can't leave some decorations up for the holidays! Other cities seem to do just fine with their decorations...come on Kent...are you going to let the students rule? Oh sorry, they already do.
Laurel Myers Hurst December 04, 2012 at 01:10 PM
One security camera couldn't nip this in the bud? The decorations are picturesque--definitely too nice for Kent (sarcasm intended). Imagine all the holiday wedding engagements that could occur in this spot WITH decorations :( I understand the desire to preserve our investment, but can that be balanced with preserving our hope/faith in humanity?
Sue Movens Otterson December 04, 2012 at 01:40 PM
While I see the possibility of stuff happening, I've seen also a nice mix of older people downtown right along with the student crowds. When you knock the students, you bite the hand that feeds you, and when you assume vandalism is going to happen, you challenge a vandal to go to greater heights to accomplish the mischief. We have a town to be proud of--why screw it up by knocking the students or playing to fears?
Logan December 04, 2012 at 01:57 PM
I don't think that vandalism is the real problem here...why on earth are we spending $65,000 on holiday decorations?! Are you kidding me?! I would much rather live in a community that spends about $15,000 on decorations and $50,000 on giving food to needy families, or providing a hot meal to elderly people around the holidays...I mean come on! And by the way, I am a student at KSU and am saying this...put more, genuine good into the community and maybe that one change will change the way people think and will begin taking a more active role...
PXC December 04, 2012 at 02:14 PM
It's ridiculous that our town would let worry and fear determine that it's a crime-risk to leave all of Kent's holiday decorations out for more than one weekend. Why isn't it reported who made the decision? The Mayor has no official power in this town, so it wasn't him. Why is every Patch story more like propaganda and less of a news story? WHO? WHAT? WHERE? WHEN? WHY?
Heather Malarcik December 04, 2012 at 02:21 PM
At Main Street Kent, we put together a campaign and worked hard to find durable, beautiful lights and decorations for our downtown, and they are still hanging on the streetlight posts and in the intersections. These decorations will remain up until after the new year. We're happy to have such a great town full of people to pitch in and donate the time and money to get this done this year! THANKS TO ALL who make our downtown a beautiful place!
Joy Smith December 04, 2012 at 02:39 PM
All I have to say is $65000 on decorations? Wow! Pretty high when our city is "struggling" for money (sarcasm at it's best). Whoooaaaa nelly...didn't we get new lights last year or the year before that are LED?
Elizabeth Hagan December 04, 2012 at 02:52 PM
I understand the need to remove the decorations. It is a sad commentary on the wanton vandalism some youths get up to these days - and I refer more to high school than college age. Unless one has actual people standing guard, kids in dark clothing can anonymously do a lot of non-reparable damage. I am also saddened at the anti-student tone of some of the comments. Without Kent State, do people think downtown Kent would be more than a non-descript crossroads between Ravenna and Stow? It has more restaurants now than bars. I've lived here almost 50 years, Kent has never been more of a family town than now. I enjoy walking downtown and also along the river walks. Older people will recall the lavish displays all downtowns used to have back in the 50s/60s. I'd rather see nothing than some of the cheap, plastic bits and bobs some towns stick up. The ones used by Kent were very nice so of course they don't want them tossed in the river.
Kasha Legeza December 04, 2012 at 03:31 PM
I second Laurel's comments, particularly: I understand the desire to preserve our investment, but can that be balanced with preserving our hope/faith in humanity?
Logan December 04, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Even if the money was fundraised, you don't think that people instead should give their money for hot meals for the elderly or less fortunate during the holidays? And heck if its money fundraised, why not keep em up through the entire holidays...I am sure people will just fundraise again...seems pretty true...
Char December 04, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Family friendly? Where exactly can young kids or teens go for any length of time downtown. Can't hang out in the stores, bars, restaurants...Certainly "shouldn't" be hanging around the river. So...library, one movie theater, bowling alley..(and thse aren't downtown) about sums it up. But we have food, pizza, tatoo parlors, coffee shops.....Hey it's great for the older, but not so much for the young.
Sarah Skibiski December 04, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Has something happened this year or in previous years that causes the fear? And if so is it something that happened prior to spending so much money on this project? And 65K? I have to agree that it sounds like an excessive amount of money no matter how it was raised for lights and garland. Especially considering it's only the start of December and it's already taken down.
Matt Fredmonsky December 04, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Please note, the decorations mentioned in this article were not part of the $65,000 initiative to decorate downtown. The decorations removed were donated. Our initial story was incorrect. However, that $65,000 project was paid for by a fundraising campaign via Main Street Kent. To read about the donors to that campaign, click on this blog post: http://kent.patch.com/blog_posts/the-frosting-on-this-cake-called-kent
Sarah Skibiski December 04, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Thanks Matt!
citizen number eight December 04, 2012 at 06:05 PM
I have little doubt that these decorations would've been destroyed or stolen. I speak from experience. I'm sure the people who organized it all thought and discussed before deciding to take then down after hours were spent putting them up.
PXC December 04, 2012 at 06:21 PM
omg, main street kent spent 65K on that mash-up of holiday decorations downtown? seriously, it look like they bought that stuff from a big-lots closeout in branson. at 65K it's difficult to even enjoy the tackiness of it...
Ted M December 04, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Right on Logan.....$56,000 for a once a year decoration.....and our budget is way out of whack....and dont get me started on the new police station. I say put up the decorations and have the ploice do some REAL policing. I dont want to seem like I am a real scrooge but I do want to seem real
Confederate American December 04, 2012 at 10:27 PM
So Kent is the only town with vandal issues. I guess all of the other cities don't have that problem because they all keep theirs up. Where is the KPD???? They are right next door to downtown..........Cant they keep an eye out? I mean, they are a REAL police dept....right? A new police station would have fixed all of this....lol
Ted M December 05, 2012 at 12:21 AM
And with a police station right next door......theft?
Donald S December 05, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Amanda, Kent does have cops on foot in the downtown area. I see them walking all of the time when I am down there and enforcing quite a bit.
h December 08, 2012 at 02:51 PM
O can't enemy make a night deposit at huntington bank downtown because they have learned that 'someone' puts trash in there so you have to have a key to use it. This is a good example of why decorations might be damaged. I think mostly everyone behaves, but it only takes one idiot and nobody to stop them, for a lot of damage to happen. It was nice to have the decoration for the events that night. But like any other holiday or birthday party, you take down your decor after. You don't leave it up. So that was reasonable. Maybe reporting it wasn't even needed, in order to not have started people being tiled up over nothing. No harm, no foul....its just words...
h December 08, 2012 at 02:53 PM
I can't even...(phones)

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