By Zach Osowski
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ELWOOD — The city of Elwood got into the Christmas spirit Saturday with their "Light Up The Magic" program downtown.
In an attempt to revitalize the downtown area, Elwood has strung lights on all of the businesses lining Alexander Street. At dusk, Mayor Ron Arnold flipped the switch and flooded the street with Christmas lights.
He said it is important to give the residents something to look forward to and having a Christmas event people could come to without having to drive is a big deal. Hundreds of people lined the streets to see the lighting ceremony and then the parade afterwards.
"We couldn't be more pleased," Arnold said. "We believe this will bring a renewed focus to our downtown."
He also was pleasantly surprised by the large number of people that braved the cold to come to the event.
"They were here in their hometown instead of somewhere else," he said. "It was very humbling and gratifying to look and see so many folks in their town enjoying something."
Kimberly Antrin, an Elwood resident, said the whole downtown scene is beautiful covered in Christmas lights.
"This is the first time they've ever done something like this and it's awesome," Antrin said. "Honestly, I've not been in the Christmas spirit, but this changes all of that."
Alice Towner got goosebumps when the buildings lit up.
"I think this is great," she said. "I know Elwood's struggled over the last few years, and I think this is great for our town and our people."
Elwood's Public Information Officer Jeff Howe said they are the only city in Indiana to decorate their downtown like this. Instead of just a couple strands of lights, the buildings are covered with rows and rows of lights, each a different color. Looking down Alexander Street is almost like looking at a quilt with the buildings resembling giant squares of blue, green, red and other colors.
The city paid for the lights with grant money earmarked for downtown revitalization. Arnold said he thought a program like this qualified as revitalization for the area.
He said a new restaurant just moved into the area, and their Christmas shopping village attracted many vendors. The Christmas events will continue throughout the holiday season.
"We'll have activities all month," Arnold said. "Again that folks can be here in their community and enjoy it without having to drive somewhere else."
Follow Zach Osowski on Twitter @Osowski_THB or call him at 640-4847.