Lighting up downtown Bismarck

Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 8:18 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Some North Dakotans hang holiday decorations before Christmas to avoid doing it when the weather is usually colder. Others wait until after Thanksgiving, even though temperatures tend to fall faster than a frozen turkey.

On cold winter days, it’s sometimes hard to find a bright spot, but as Arctic air makes its way into town, volunteers are hoping to warm up shoppers in downtown Bismarck with a little holiday cheer. Employees of Dakota Community Bank have been lending a helping hand to light-up city streets for the past 10 years.

“Dawn and Katie at the Downtowners are just great gals and we enjoy coming down and helping them out, gets us out of the office too. But, yes, it always seems to be the coldest day of the year that we end up doing this little chore,” said Mike Herner, branch president of Dakota Community Bank.

“But, with a smile on your face nonetheless,” remarked reporter Christa Kiedrowski.

“Yes, for sure, for sure,” responded Herner.

100 light poles across 10 blocks of downtown will be adorned with banners and lights signaling the start of the Christmas season. The snowflakes were originally purchased in 2009 and still use incandescent bulbs, so they need to be handled with care.

“They’re fairly old decorations now, so we have about 2,500 little lights that could be changed, but we end up changing about 2,000 little light bulbs every year,” said Dawn Kopp, executive director of the Downtown Business Association of Bismarck.

Despite the wind chill, the volunteers still feel the decorations warm up the long winter nights.

“Yeah, I think it just brings a festive feeling to the downtown Bismarck area. You know, the lights go up and the banners go up and people are out and about shopping and just kind of that nice festive feeling,” said Herner.

Even with many hands pitching in it takes about 40 volunteer hours to put up the banners and snowflake lights across downtown. To get the most holiday cheer out of the decorations and volunteer hours, the banners and snowflakes will stay up until mid to late February.