PRESCOTT - In honor of Arizona's Centennial in early 2012, the number of glowing trees on the Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza will more than double this year.
Prescott Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer David Maurer reported this week that he approached Christmas Light Decorators, the firm that handles the courthouse decorations, about the possibility of substantially increasing the number of lighted trees this year to commemorate Arizona's 100 years of statehood.
"They were able to work out a budget that does allow for 100 trees," Maurer said.
That compares with the past two years, when the total number of decorated trees stood at about 35 to 37.
To help cover the additional trees, Maurer said, "A couple of things have happened."
For instance, he said, the decorations for many of the trees will not be as high this year as in years past. While the previous height of the wound strings of light was 40 to 50 feet, he said many would be 20 to 25 feet high this year.
That, in turn, will allow the decorations to be more spread out. "Much more of the courthouse plaza will be lit this year - on both the north and south sides," Maurer said. "It will look like the whole courthouse plaza is lit up."
Along with reducing the height of the lights, the Chamber also was able to raise more money this year - partly through several large contributions.
One involves the memorial for a Prescott man who died in April 2011. Maurer said the family of Edwin Anderson asked that, in lieu of flowers, memorials should go to the chamber's Christmas light program. "He and his wife loved the courthouse lighting," Maurer said.
The memorials to Anderson totaled about $10,000, Maurer said, adding, "That definitely pushed us over the top (in fundraising)."
In addition, Maurer said the courthouse lighting effort has been aided by individual fundraising efforts, such as the one Tommy Meredith of the Jersey Lilly Saloon conducts each year.
Last year, Maurer said the Jersey Lilly contributions raised about $6,000, and a similar effort is under way again this year.
Including the $30,000 that the City of Prescott is contributing from its bed tax revenues, the courthouse lighting budget totals about $75,000 this year, Maurer said.
Also adding to the general glow in the downtown area will be an effort to light up the tops of the buildings surrounding the courthouse.
Because previous efforts to light up the downtown skyline have been somewhat "on again, off again," Maurer said he approached Christmas Light Decorators about doing the work, and got an estimate of $7,500.
Largely through a contribution from the Prescott Western Heritage Society, the chamber was able to come up with much of that total.
Maurer explained that the Western Heritage Society contributed $5,000 from its successful centennial coin sales, while the chamber has able to add about $2,000 from the amount it usually pays for fixing and replacing bulbs in the snowflake decorations that the city puts up around town. (Maurer said enough leftover bulbs were on hand to cover the refurbishment this year).
Work has already occurred on some of the light installations, and Maurer said he expects the final decorating work to take place on Veteran's Day, Nov. 11, while the county courthouse is not in session.