Ronda Graff

Community Connections

News and views from the McCook Community Foundation Fund


Generations coming together to make change happen

Thursday, November 17, 2022
Taryn Arterburn, left, and Sarah Rippen are installing one of thousands of lightbulbs which will soon be hanging up and down Norris Avenue.
Courtesy Photo

It started with a simple phone call a few months ago.

“I want to see Christmas lights in downtown McCook,” Taryn Arterburn asked.

We shared what had been done in the past to light up downtown McCook, including successes and obstacles. We talked about the lights which were already installed along the buildings up and down Norris. We dreamed about zig-zagging lights across Norris and every tree lit up from truck to the top of the branches.

“Let’s see what we can do,” I responded and further phone calls, emails and texts ensued.

One of those phone calls was to ACE Hardware, just to see if getting 3,000 feet of Christmas lights was possible considering the recent supply-chain issues. Not only was it possible, but they were able to be delivered in just a few days and ACE would donate them to the project. We had to purchase the plastic LED lights bulbs separately, but McCook Community Foundation Fund happens to have funds ready for a project to “Celebrate McCook” to cover those costs.

Other phone calls were to those who had tried in the past to install the lights, so they had guidance and experience on what worked and - perhaps more importantly - what didn’t work.

There were phone calls to younger people, who want to get things done in the community and have the energy and enthusiasm and the ability to climbs ladders more easily.

There were phone calls to the City of McCook, about electricity options, which was going to be lower in the past thanks to new technology.

And phone calls and visits to all the local business and building owners found nearly unanimous eager support to bring the lights back to down McCook.

With the deadline looming - the holidays - the project to Light Up McCook came together relatively quickly with several generations coming together to make it happen.

Last Sunday, nearly two dozen volunteers ranging in age from 3 years old to….let’s just say they have been on AARP’s list for a few decades…started the installation process. Those who aren’t afraid of heights installed clips on the roofs from A to D Street along Norris Avenue. The others stayed inside a warm building, screwing in 1,000 LED bulbs into 3,000 feet of lines snaking its way along the floor.

So this Sunday, those 3,000 feet of Christmas lights will be strung on the skyline of McCook.

And if our measurements were off and there are extra lights left, the downtown trees will be lit up as well.

Hopefully this is just the beginning.

The lights won’t be zig-zagging across Norris Avenue just yet like many of us want but it could be a project for the near future. And that may include new decorative light poles, flower pots along the sidewalks, a variety of ideas to improve McCook’s first impression and just overall “vibe” for our citizens.

And it isn’t just this group of multi-generational volunteers coming together to light up McCook. The McCook Chamber, led by Sarah Schneider, installed lights in the trees around the Norris Park Bandshell with help from McCook High School students.

And there are still opportunities to get involved.

Charter West Bank is also sponsoring a “Light Up McCook” contest for all McCook businesses. They are encouraged to decorate their locations with as many holiday decorations and lights as they can find, tolerate, or get in place by Tuesday, Nov. 29, when the judging takes place. To participate, contact Charter West or the McCook Chamber. Winners will be announced Nov. 30.

Also on the calendar is the Chamber’s Winter Wonderland Celebration, which includes carriage rides and the Christmas Lights Parade on Saturday, Dec. 3. This is a great opportunity to test your skills at lighting things up….that need to move. Register for the parade by contacting the McCook Chamber.

But there is so much more we can do.

The nostalgic Santa Clause Lane has been installed up and down Norris Avenue. While the signs light up when headlines shine on the reflective paint, we would like to see all the trees strung with lights from top to bottom. We would like to see every tree in Norris Park lit up from Thanksgiving through the New Year.

This is going to require a lot of time, a lot of money, and a whole lot of strings of lights. But by bringing together community members with a passion, with the energy and the enthusiasm, we can make change happen and we can make McCook an even better place to call home.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: