Are downtown Lansing holiday decorations dwindling?

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By Meg Dedyne
Listen Up, Lansing Staff Reporter

Boris Hsieh said he looks forward to the downtown Lansing holiday decorations every year outside of his family’s restaurant, AnQi Sushi Express. However, this year the spirit seems to be in short supply.

“I always notice what is different about the Halloween and Christmas decorations each year,” said Hsieh. “But the past year’s decorations seem to have been much more vibrant and it seems like there were more of them in past years.”

During Silver Bells in the City, the iconic Christmas tree in front of the Capitol was lit. Photo taken by Meg Dedyne.

During Silver Bells in the City, the iconic Christmas tree in front of the Capitol was lit. Photo taken by Meg Dedyne.

According to Hsieh there are a lot less decorations downtown this year, including this year’s Christmas tree in front of the Capitol.

“This year’s downtown Christmas tree is a whole lot smaller and less pretty compared to the past years,” Hsieh said. “The Christmas tree downtown used to be huge and really full but this year the tree is much shorter and thinner than in the past. The tree also usually has a lot of different colors but this year I only really notice three.”

According to Layna Anderson, communications and marketing manager for Downtown Lansing Inc., there are around the same amount of decorations every year.

“The amount of decorations don’t really change from year to year since we keep most of them intact to reuse again. Although since the banners on the light poles are sponsored, we might have to change a sponsor or something like that,” Anderson said. “There are about 70 sponsors for the banners.”

Anderson said that they try to switch up the colors of lights on the Christmas tree from year to year. This year the tree has three different colors of lights and last year the tree was all white for the 30th anniversary for Silver Bells in the City.

There are banners on light poles downtown Lansing that each have their own sponsor. Photo taken by Meg Dedyne.

There are banners on light poles downtown Lansing that each have their own sponsor. Photo taken by Meg Dedyne.

“This year the difference with the tree is there are a lot more lights than usual,” Anderson said. “There are almost 9,000 lights on the tree and normally there are way less.”

Abby Turner, who works in the Victor Office Center, located at 201 N. Washington Square, Lansing, said that she enjoys the different festivities downtown Lansing has to offer during the holidays.

“My favorite event is Silver Bells, where they light the tree and this year I noticed other things like Christmas movies playing on the walls of buildings and it seemed like there were more lights on floats this year,” Turner said.

According to Turner, she wishes that there were more decorations for other holidays throughout the year downtown, because she usually only notices the Christmas ones, such as the tree and wreaths on the light poles.

Decorations are in front of stores and above doorways downtown Lansing. Photo taken by Meg Dedyne.

Decorations are in front of stores and above doorways downtown Lansing. Photo taken by Meg Dedyne.

Xiaoyu Yin, who lives near Old Town in Lansing said that she was able to attend Silver Bells this year and had the chance to look around. She noticed the huge red ornaments in the middle of the roundabout near the Capitol the most. Yin is originally from China.

“That’s what I mainly noticed. It seems like the decorations are about the same or even bigger in China,” Yin said. “Usually there are Santas everywhere back home and especially the malls go all out.”

Carl Taylor, a sociology professor at Michigan State University, said that commercial decorations in a large city are all about bringing people together and about the larger picture during the holiday season.

“Large cities always come up with things like decorations in order to attract people to the downtown area and the restaurants and businesses located there,” Taylor said. “People love to be in big cities and take in the festivities during the holidays. It’s become a tradition and almost ritual for people, and the decorations are a part of this.”

Valerie Marvin, Capitol historian said that the tree has been known as the holiday tree or Christmas tree, which is the title it currently holds. The tradition of the tree dates back to Silver Bells in the City, 1987.

The Christmas tree was lit in front of the Capitol during Silver Bells. Map made by Meg Dedyne.

The Christmas tree was lit in front of the Capitol during Silver Bells. Map made by Meg Dedyne.

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