By CRISTIN REECE
The city of Palestine is spreading some Christmas cheer a little early.
City council members approved expenditures for a substantial community Christmas decoration during the regular city council meeting held Monday.
Main Street Manager Laura Westgate said the city has ordered a custom-made steam engine and three rail cars, including a caboose – all animated and pre-lit with hand tied multicolored lights – from DB Design in Waco.
“This is actually the second phase of a multi-phase project,” Westgate said. “The first phase started last year with the addition of the snow flakes to our historic poles. We’re continuing that by adding 23 more, so this year all our poles will have them.
“The next phase is really pretty exciting. It captures the spirit of the holiday and the history of our town very well,” Westgate said. “This isn’t something you’re going to be able to see or get anywhere else. The designers actually studied the trains at the Texas State Railroad, so it’ll be very reminiscent of the historic steam trains there.”
The show piece, which costs nearly $15,000 and measures 42 feet long and 18 feet high, will be prominently located along Spring Street, when it goes up the first week of November.
Westgate said the company included installation, set-up and storage training and lifetime technical support in the cost of the piece. Funds for the venture were included in this fiscal year’s budget, city officials said.
“We’ll also be able to add cars to it in the future,” Westgate said. “The city set aside funds because we haven’t had anything new in quite awhile.”
Westgate said the whole project is a collaborative effort between the city, the county. Local business owners and various other community members.
“We have a really unique partnership,” she said. “It fell under the Main Street’s umbrella, since it’s the Main Street district, and we couldn’t have done it without the great support from the community, our Parks and Recreation and Street Departments, the county, our business owners, the Texas State Railroad – lots of people and organizations supported us and we couldn’t have done it without them.”
Westgate said the county is also revamping and adding to its annual Christmas display, including adding more colored lights and other decorations.
“They’ve got some huge things planned for the courthouse this year,” she said. “I can’t wait for the holidays to get here!”