By RODNEY D. BOAM
With only two months to go before the Festival of Lights changes Preston’s State Street into a lighted paradise with assorted holiday activities, the planning and organization is moving forward.
Ron Smellie and Kris Beckstead went before the Preston City Council last week and asked the city to take the lead on the Festival of Lights. The two said they felt that if Preston City would be the sponsor, it would make it more legitimate.
Smellie and Beckstead championed the cause a year ago when it looked like the annual holiday event was going to be dropped and their work gave it one more blip on the life support monitor.
In its heyday the Festival of Lights was as much a city function as it was a Chamber of Commerce function. That’s when Walt Ross and Wayne Bell were both involved in both Preston city government and Festival of Lights.
In time the Festival became a function of the Preston Area Chamber of Commerce and Preston City was able to back away from the Festival. Since the demise of the chamber, no one organization is leading the charge for the event.
“We feel like if the city were behind the festival it would be more valid and it would be more permanent. The city has always been the backbone of the festival anyway,” Smellie said.
The Preston businessman said they were not backing out or leaving it to the wolves, they just felt like the organization should be more formalized.
“When you go to the community and ask for donations it will be easier if the city were backing the festival. The city has always been a great backer with the celebration, if we get their backing we feel it will be more valid and permanent,” Beckstead said. “It’s hard to ask for help if you are just an ad hoc or floating committee with no one backing you.”
The committees are still intact, some are ready to go and others have not been contacted.
FCMC Home Care and Hospice has agreed to do the International Bed Race again this year.
Tiffany Jeppsen, who started the craft fair a few years ago, said she is working using 74 South State as the craft fair location. The building is currently be used by Strictly Ballroom for a practice studio. She said there will be more entertainment than last year.
Jeppsen said as far as she knew the festival was going to be pulled off same as always.
Mayor F. Lee Henderickson said they just felt like they were too busy to carry on leading the charge of the holiday activity.
“I don’t blame them; they are really. I don’t think the city can do all the work that needs to be done. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes. It will go on this year,” Hendrickson said.
The mayor said they hope to get an organization in place to make it an annual event.
The city has a line item budget of $3,000 for the festival and half of that comes from a donation from Rocky Mountain Power.
Smellie told the mayor he would still help this year and try to get a new organization and chairman in place for next year.
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