(New Ulm, MN) – Residents of New Ulm are rallying to save one of the city’s most beloved Christmas traditions, which could be celebrating its final year.
Downtown New Ulm’s Minnesota St has been festooned with scalloped garlands every Christmas season since 1933. The garlands are suspended on buildings on either side of the street, with a lighted bell or a star showcased in the center wreath.
But in 2016, a fire caused by the garlands led to a discussion on safety and liability.
The New Ulm Journal reported in June that 2019 would be the last year of the holiday garlands. The decision came after a downtown action committee estimated a $100,000 cost for a building inspection, amid concerns the old structures could no longer support the weight of the garlands.
Councilman Larry Mack confirmed the council has chosen not to hang the garlands on the buildings in the future, but said they are looking at other solutions or options to come to the table. Mack said the council has budgeted for 2020 decorations.
When the decorations were hung this season, the news re-circulated that it was the final year for the garlands.
Residents spoke up, their reactions ringing with sadness, disbelief, and even anger. “This IS New Ulm as it was and as it should remain,” said one Facebook commenter. “Those garlands are what attracted thousands of people to downtown – Holiday Magic. Nothing will ever compare or better those.”
A petition was started on Change.org, requesting the city council to re-evaluate the decision to discontinue the garlands. “We believe the garlands should continue to be a part of New Ulm’s festive holiday downtown, which helps drive people to our local businesses,” reads the petition.
The petition has been signed by over 1,400 people.
Photo credit: Kyle Krenz, October, Minnesota