Winter Wonderland of 60,000 New Lights Headed to Trees of Downtown St. Joe


In a year that has been filled with stark terror for many retailers who faced several months of mandated closures during the pandemic, the upcoming holiday shopping season may be more critical than ever before. With that backdrop, a great collaboration has stepped forward to help brighten the season considerably in the central business district of downtown St. Joseph to encourage all of us to head out and support the local business community filled with the holiday spirit.

St. Joseph Today has been meeting in recent weeks with the City of St. Joseph, the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber, the Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council, and Cornerstone Alliance to discuss ways to help support the downtown business community in the upcoming holiday and winter seasons.

The drive is to create a welcoming atmosphere that invites customers into the central business district side-by-side with each individual business’ own efforts by wrapping trees in lights and providing holiday music to the mix.

At last night’s St. Joseph City Commission meeting, Amy Zapal, Executive Director of St. Joseph Today made the pitch to the commission seeking their approval and partial financial participation to help make it happen.

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Zapal says the partners came together “To create a magical experience that will bring more consumers and business to downtown St. Joseph.”

Through the partnership, new winter lights will be wrapped around 84 downtown trees featuring a total of some 60,000 lights professionally placed by a company called HouseMaster, a St. Joseph firm with many local clients. Here is where the proposal would put the new lights:

  • 38 trees on State Street from Elm to Ship…
  • 18 trees on Broad Street from Main to Lake…
  • 20 trees on Pleasant Street from Main to Lake…
  • 8 trees on Pleasant Street from Main to Silver Harbor…

The winter lights will be installed for a November 20th kickoff on Luminary weekend, and will remain in place through February 15th in conjunction with Light Up the Bluff.

Zapal says, “Our hope is to make outdoor spaces more inviting during the winter,” adding, “Downtown St. Joseph will transform into a winter wonderland, enticing visitors, shoppers and diners alike for the holidays and throughout the winter. We invite the community to enjoy this winter season and support local businesses.”

Each of the partner organizations is kicking in $4,000 towards the total cost of $27,400, and the City of St. Joseph will fund the balance of $11,400 following City Commission approval last night.

Arthur Havlicek, President & CEO of the SW Michigan Regional Chamber says, “This placemaking effort stemmed from the group meeting to discuss the importance of driving more business downtown during the colder months,” and adds, “It’s important to support the community year-round by shopping local.” He concludes, “I appreciate our organizations working together to set the stage for an important season of buying local.”

In light of the critical nature of the holiday season, Zapal says St. Joseph Today will kick off the season a little earlier this year, noting, “St. Joe Today added holiday music throughout downtown in 2019 as part of Window Wonderland,” adding, “This year we wanted to start the holiday festivities a little earlier during the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season, Luminary. We’re hoping to spread a little extra cheer this year.”

The crew at St. Joe Today also invites you to catch these upcoming fall and winter events:

  • Luminary: Friday, November 20th (5:00pm-8:00pm)
  • Small Business Saturday: Saturday, November 28th (all day)
  • Window Wonderland: Friday, December 4th (7:00pm-8:30pm)
  • Reindog Holiday Parade: Saturday, December 5th (3:00pm)

The new tree lights are warm white LED lights that will wrap the trunks and major branches of the 84 trees that have been selected downtown. HouseMaster provides all of the lights, wraps the trees, maintains the lights, and will remove them when the season is over.

The photo accompanying this story on Moody on the Market is for illustration purposes only, and does not depict actual work by the firm selected.