Mears Park Seeing Fewer Holiday Lights Due to Lack of Funds

Updated: 11/30/2013 5:22 PM By: Beth McDonough

This is traditionally the time of year when cities across the metro start to light up parks for the holidays.

Yet in one St. Paul park, there's a noticeable difference.

That's because costs are up and donations are down, according to officials. That means, there's less holiday lights on display at Mears Park.

Resident Todd Fox said he is upset flickering lights are limited to only the perimeter of the park and not every tree within the actual park.

"It's disappointing," Fox said. "The lights set a nice mood our family is a pretty big Christmas family and walking through brings a smile to your face."

The City of St. Paul set aside $80,000 for decorations downtown.  Of that, Mears Park gets $4,000, which is only enough to light 40 trees.

They need $16,000 more to light the whole place according to John Mannillo, who runs Friends of Mears Park. He says from now through the Winter Carnival, it costs upwards of $20,000. The lack of lighting, he says, is caused by lack of funds.

"We don't want to light it unless we have all $20,000 to light the park because we don't want to do it halfway," Mannillo said.

That's why folks recently rounded up $5,000 in donations. Friends of Mears Park is trying to raise another $5,000. If they succeed, another group will match the remaining $10,000, to illuminate the entire park.

"It really adds a lot to this part of town," Mannillo said. "Its dark without it in the winter time."