I don’t do it often, but I have a rant I’d like to share. I was watching the downtown Christmas tree being taken down recently. That tree has made me mad the last two years. Don’t get me wrong, I love the tree itself. What I hate is the huge amount of revenue potential and untapped opportunities we lose each year with its lighting ceremony.
The powers that be think lighting the tree on the Sunday following Thanksgiving is perfect, probably because that’s the way it’s always been. It’s the day all your visitors have left, and the kids have gone back to college. But most people are exhausted from the long weekend and just don’t have the energy to attend the lighting. In addition, there really is no huge marketing or advertising push to get the word out.
Saturday is the answer, and here’s why. There has been a nationwide push in recent years to create Shop Local Saturday following the big box’s Black Friday. It’s a great idea, and what better way to cap off Shop Local Saturday than with a concert and tree lighting?
By Saturday, you’ve mostly run out of food for your visitors and the turkey is starting to smell a little off. Why not make reservations at a downtown restaurant and go watch the tree lighting ceremony. You don’t have to cook, and the visitors get dinner and a free show!
On Saturday, parking’s not great, so you might as well go down a little early to get good parking and do some window shopping. Those impulse buys downtown help out a lot. Plus your visitors from out of state are going to love the lack of sales tax. Besides, you might see something and decide a week later you can’t live without it, making a second shopping trip downtown — bonus!
On Saturday, let’s get the schools involved. Have the Roseburg High School band herald the lighting. Their friends and former bandmates who’ve gone off to college are going to love the opportunity to see them play and catch up afterwards, perhaps over a cup of coffee. Get the grade school choirs to join in the events lineup. It brings parents and grandparents downtown for the event. More people, more wallets.
Let’s make it Saturday. The Tree Lighting Ceremony is a great tradition in this community, it’s just underappreciated. Let’s make an effort to turn it into something truly special and unique to our community. The cost, you ask? I’m thinking about $0. We’d just be flipping the switch one day earlier. The merchants and restaurants would take on the advertising to generate revenue. If we use public schools and community music groups, we’d essentially be expanding what is currently being done now, just on a larger scale.
So that’s my rant. Let’s turn the downtown tree lighting into something special. Let’s make it a big event that really puts the spotlight on downtown without spending a fortune or needing feasibility studies and impact statements. Let’s take a tradition that’s already in place and kick it up to the next level to really showcase downtown to residents and visitors alike and start the holidays off with a bang.
If you’re a merchant or restaurant owner, talk to somebody/anybody to get the word out. If you’re a downtown supporter and have the ear of any folks who can make this happen, talk to them. I hope this rant might get the ball rolling for this year. We almost have a whole year to make this community event bigger and better than ever!
Brett Lindemann, a four-year Roseburg resident, is the owner of the Daily Grind Café across from Roseburg City Hall. He can be reached at 541-672-1859 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.