CARTHAGE, Mo. — Twenty-six miles of wires. More than 415,000 lights.
The numbers are a little mind-boggling when it comes to Carthage’s newest light display going up in Central Park.
Chuck Bryant, general manager at the Carthage Water & Electric Plant, said residents may attend a launch at 6 p.m. Monday for Sparkle in the Park, a new light display that Bryant said will stop traffic and attract visitors to the city.
“I think in this Sparkle in the Park we’ve created an instant tradition for families to come in and take pictures, and to walk and enjoy the lights,” Bryant said. “It just really enhances our community during the Christmas season, and we are so excited.”
Lyman Burr, who lives with his wife near Central Park, said he’s been watching the crews for the past three weeks as they’ve hung the miles of wires and lights throughout the park. Burr said he’s impressed that the municipal utility would go to such great lengths to introduce something new to Carthage.
“I think it’s great,”he said. “I think it’s a really positive thing for the community,” Burr said. “I’m surprised that they’ve really stepped up and done it. This is something that seems kind of old-fashioned. It’s retro in the respect that way back in the day when we were kids, towns would decorate to the hilt.”
Bryant said installing the lights was a cooperative effort between the utility crews and parks maintenance crews. He said it wasn’t just CW&EP’s electric crews, either.
“We’ve kind of all worked together over a couple of weeks to wrap all the trees and structures in the park,” he said. “We kind of feel like this is a gift to the community.”
Bryant said the crews wrapped nearly every tree and every structure in Central Park with strings of lights. CW&EP crews also fabricated tall metal Christmas trees that are placed over the big stone planters in four round flower gardens around the central fountain. The metal trees are covered in multicolored lights.
“Our employees here have just a tremendous amount of pride in the work that they did on this project,” Bryant said. “I think we’ve created something special, and it’s been great teamwork.”
New and traditional
Bryant said he thinks the new light display will complement the new Hometown Holidays events that Vision Carthage is bringing to the area just south of the square and the other traditional lights and events across Carthage.
• Vision Carthage’s Hometown Holidays has filled Fifth Street and the parking lots between Fifth and Sixth streets between Main and Grant streets with Christmas fun, including a simulated skating rink that doesn’t require ice or cold, a giant bounce house, a snow maze, a giant slide and a light tunnel leading from the square to the Hometown Holidays entrance. Hometown Holidays has open hours through Jan. 1.
• Crews have wrapped new Christmas lights around the trees on the Jasper County Courthouse lawn.
• The Congregation of the Mother of the Redeemer at Fairview and Grand avenues has opened its traditional half-mile drive-thru light display this week.
• Mount Moriah United Methodist Church, 15506 Nutmeg Road north of Carthage, will open its traditional Christmas light show Dec. 3.
Bryant said he believes Sparkle in the Park will help turn Carthage into a Christmas destination.
“We have such a beautiful community here to begin with and we have so many positives, this just enhances all the things that we already know and love about Carthage,” Bryant said. “I hope that businesses and all the community groups in town begin to find ways to do some similar things to really promote Carthage as a destination for people to come and view and see and enjoy the Christmas season and go to the downtown and go buy some stuff. Make sure they shop and have a meal here in town.”