Ready for SNOWAbout 400 volunteer hours go into annual festival
As the temperature was dropping close to 20 degrees this morning, Main Street SNOW committee chair Cari Widdel quickly moved between traffic cones that had been set up along the square, putting up signs to remind people to park elsewhere after 5 p.m.
By 8 a.m. today 10 volunteers on the Main Street Washington SNOW (Showcasing Nights Of Washington) committee were hard at work setting up the decorations on the square for the annual event. After a quick lunch break, the volunteers will be back at it, working until the main events begin at 5 p.m. With the annual lighted parade expected to begin at 6 p.m. it will be at least 6:30 p.m. before the event ends.
“We start meeting over the summer to plan all the SNOW events,” Widdel said. “We spend a lot of time preparing and we spend a lot of time communicating with our downtown retailers and helping them understand what is going on and asking them to participate. It takes a lot of time to get the word out and make sure the community is aware of all the events.”
Main Street Washington director Sarah Sadrakula said today that literally hundreds of volunteer hours go into getting ready for the event throughout the year. She conservatively estimates between 350 and 400 volunteer hours go into getting ready for the annual holiday festival.
On the square, freshly cut evergreen trees were used to decorate the bandstand. Decorations of holly and stars have been put on all the downtown light posts.
“There is a ton of behind-the-scenes work and we are thankful to a lot of volunteers who make that possible,” Widdel said.
While she was hoping for a warmer evening for the event, Widdel said that she is concerned the temperature will be closer to 20 degrees. This is the second year Widdel has chaired the committee, but she has been involved with the committee for four years.
In addition to the committee, Widdel said there are also people who help put up decorations and who help with Santa’s house, which will be at the former Washington Public Library again this year.
For the last couple of weeks, Widdel said that she has been putting in about 15 hours a week to get ready for the event. She designed advertisements and made sure people knew about the SNOW.
“I love community work and was interested in the mission of Main Street,” Widdel said. “When I started, I lived in an apartment downtown. My husband and I were new to town and wanted to get involved. I thought this was a good way to do that.”
She also said getting ready for the event is “fun work.” As a stay-at-home mother, she said it is a good opportunity to use some of her skill set to make a difference for the community. She said the work gives her the opportunity to get to know people she otherwise would never meet.
Widdel said that when she sees the downtown area busy, she knows she has done a good job. She said last Friday she was excited to see the parking spaces full during the Shop and Stroll last Friday. She hopes plenty of people will come out to celebrate and enjoy downtown Washington.
The events begin at 5 p.m. with service groups giving away hot dogs, hot cocoa and popcorn in Central Park. At 5:30 p.m. the lighting ceremony will begin. Main Street Washington will run a photo booth with the photos being posted later Friday evening or Saturday morning on a Flicker stream, and people will be able to download them for free.
The Washington Relay For Life committee will give a presentation on the bandshell and the Washington Choral Society will perform. Two singers from Columbus Junction will sing classical Christmas songs. Little Miss Iowa will perform. The show will culminate with Santa using his Christmas magic to light the square.
The parade begins at 6 p.m. with the traditional route around the square.
On Saturday, the Jingle Bell Run will be held. Breakfast with Santa runs from 8 to 10:30 a.m. at the United Presbyterian Church. She said the Lions Club will prepare breakfast and elves will make Christmas decorations. Beginning at 9:30 a.m. Santa will read stories to the children attending. This Saturday is Small Business Saturday and many shops will be open with special holiday deals.