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A new twinkle to the lights

While snow gently fell Monday, workers from Alexandria Light and Power put up new Christmas decorations on Broadway. City street crews also help in the effort.

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, thy leaves are so unchanging.

Except this year.

New Christmas tree decorations are spanning the five intersections in downtown Alexandria this year.

Alexandria Light and Power (ALP) dug into its budget to purchase the decorations. They'll replace the trees that were showing their age.

The five old trees, by the way, are up for sale, noted Scott Deitz, ALP operations manager.

Deitz said the decoration upgrade was overdue. Crews were spending more and more time every holiday season making repairs and replacing burned-out bulbs.

The downtown lights will also cast a new glow this year. More durable and energy efficient LED lights will replace the bulb-style lights, Deitz noted.

The improvements don't stop there.

The smaller trees decorated with "Season Greetings" messages have been refurbished with new garland.

One other big change: The city is eschewing the "political correctness" fears of the past by hanging a big "Merry Christmas" sign across North Broadway, between the Runestone Museum and the Probuild lumber store. Each letter is four-feet tall and secured to a steel rod, Deitz said.

"It will be a Merry Christmas in the Fort this year," Deitz said, referring to the annual celebration the museum organizes to kick-off the holiday season.

The gates for Christmas in the Fort will open on Friday, November 26 at 3:30 p.m. and Santa and Mrs. Claus are set to arrive by horse and carriage around 3:45 p.m. They will be coming down Broadway beginning at 7th Avenue.

For safety purposes, 2nd Avenue will be blocked from traffic one block east of Broadway and North Broadway will be blocked from north of Downtown Liquor to Big Ole Central Park.

At 5:15 p.m. the annual lighting ceremony will take place.

The museum itself will be open during the Christmas in the Fort event with a paid admission.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be in "Santa's Workshop," which is otherwise known as the annex. They will be collecting toys, mittens and hats for the Jaycees' Jingle Bells telethon fundraiser.

Also scheduled to make a special appearance are a couple of Santa's reindeer. Parents are encouraged to bring a camera to take pictures of their children with Santa and Mrs. Claus - and maybe the reindeer, too.

There will also be free popcorn, pretzels and apple cider for guests to enjoy.

The gates of the museum are set to close around 5:30 p.m.

This event is sponsored by several businesses and individuals who contributed through the Runestone Museum's four different giving levels - platinum, gold, silver and bronze.

For more information about Christmas in the Fort, call (320) 763-3160.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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