A community project that started with crowdfunding a Christmas tree for downtown St. Joseph has grown into a multi-year plan that involves lighting up all of downtown in the future, as this rendering by the Downtown Holiday Experience committee shows.

The holidays might still be a couple of months away, but a group of community members is already busy preparing to make Downtown St. Joseph glow like never before.

Owner of Manic Snail Dana Massin felt the area could use more lights to capture the holiday spirit and approached the St. Joseph City Council in September with her idea to make St. Joseph more festive. Her first course of action was starting a GoFundMe campaign to purchase a 25 foot pre-lit Christmas tree.

“I wanted to demonstrate to the city, the community and City Hall that people do want to see holiday decor Downtown, so funding the tree from the public seemed like the best course of action to show community support for holiday decorations Downtown,” Massin said.

The campaign has raised over $1,500 of its $5,700 goal so far and a committee consisting of other business owners and community members has since been formed. The Downtown Holiday Experience committee is not only working on purchasing a Christmas tree but also lights for Felix Street Square.

To get the city involved and secure funding for holiday decorations, the group has filed a grant application to receive money from the transient guest sales tax, also known as the hotel-motel tax.

“We’ve applied for $10,000 there in addition to the $5,700 I’m trying to raise for the tree,” Massin said. “The $10,000 would be funneled through the (St. Joseph Parks, Recreation & Civic Facilities Department) and put toward decorating Felix Street Square.”

The City Council will review the application on Monday, Oct. 8, at the next City Council meeting. Massin said members of the council and the parks department have been supportive of her idea to expand the holiday cheer already present in other corners of St. Joseph to Downtown.

“I see every year this excitement that’s generated with Krug Park,” Massin said. “Those of us who are business owners Downtown and passionate about Downtown Revitalization want to see the same sort of holiday cheer Downtown.”

Massin also hopes to secure corporate sponsors to expand holiday decorations from Felix Street Square to all of Downtown.

“It has morphed from just a plan for the park to a multi-year plan to be achieved by 2020 that hopefully will include lights strung across the street, lighting up all of the buildings and giving the community a real pride point for the holidays,” Massin said.

She also hopes creating a more festive atmosphere will increase revenue around the holidays.

“When you extend something like this to Downtown you get an opportunity to create more revenue for the city, as well, and provide a shopping experience unlike any other in the city of St. Joseph,” Massin said.

Donations to Massin’s GoFundMe campaign can be made by visiting the campaign website at www.gofundme.com/make-felix-street-square-shine or searching for “Glow” on www.gofundme.com.

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Jessica Kopp can be reached

at jessica.kopp@newspressnow.com or you can follow her on Twitter: @NPNOWKopp

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