MERIDEN — The city is sprucing up a cherished Christmas tradition this year.
A new stainless steel globe has been installed in Hubbard Park for the 25th annual Festival of Silver Lights. The 14-foot tall structure is covered in masses of white lights, which will illuminate the continents of the Earth.
The globe has been a highlight of the festival and sits atop a steel base with “Peace on Earth” written in script around the sides.
“The old one was made of tubular steel and rusted throughout,” said Mark Zebora, director of parks and public buildings. “It was 20 years old. Two years ago we knew we needed a new one and last year we wondered if it would make it through the season.”
So the Utah-based company that makes all of the other decorations for the park ... swans in the ponds, bells hanging across poles, reindeer, bears, camels, the American Flag, Castle Craig ... was enlisted to make a new, bigger globe out of tougher material that is better able to withstand harsh New England winters, Zebora said.
The lights will be turned on during a ceremony on Nov. 26 to kick off the festival. Hot cocoa and cookies will also be served that night. The decorations will stay up through Jan. 6 for the Feast of the Epiphany.
“We start decorating the park the day after Columbus Day, the second Monday in October and want them lit before Thanksgiving for people who go away for the holiday,” Zebora said. “It’s pretty remarkable. It’s even visible from the highway.”
The city uses between 150,000 and 200,000 lights. Utility costs run from $4,000 to $5,000 and the cost for the lights and setup is between $7,000 and $8,000, according to Zebora. Workers still have to set up holiday trees in front of the bandstand. There will be a total of 13 trees with white lights in Hubbard Park and City Hall, Zebora added.
“It’s really cool. It’s something to see and it’s all free,” Zebora said.
“Over the past few years we’ve increased the decorations in and around town,” said City Councilor Cathy Battista, who is also chair of the parks commission.
“It adds to the quality of life issue,” she said. “And the South Meriden decorations add to the beauty of the entire city and that’s all done with donations. It’s all so amazing. It’s something we’re very proud of.”