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CBC receives over $500,000 in holiday decorations

  Santa Claus brought an early Christmas gift to the Frankenmuth City Beautification Committee (CBC) with the donation of dozens of lighted Christmas displays from a Midland-based company, JE Johnson Contracting.

  Earlier this spring, more than six semi-loads of Santas, gnomes, toy soldiers and snowflakes were carted from their hangar at Midland’s Barstow Airport to the city’s storage facility at 210 North Franklin Street.

 “Ironically, this property, the former Universal Engineering Plant 3, was purchased by the city for ‘space insurance through a major financial gift from the Wally and Irene Bronner Family Foundation,” Frankenmuth Downtown Development Authority Director Sheila Stamiris said.

  In 2001, JE Johnson owner Jim Johnson purchased the displays and provided for a driving holiday tour in the Midland Fairgrounds. The special event was managed through 2004, when the costs to operate were greater than the benefits received. The 18 lighted displays have been stored in the company-owned hangar since that time.

  A potential sale of the hangar brought the need to move the decorations and at the recommendation of staff from Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, JE Johnson Director of Development Greg Saxton contacted the CBC to make the offer.

  In April, the CBC gratefully accepted the amazing donation, along with the task of moving the displays from Midland to Frankenmuth and preparing for this holiday season.

  The enormity of the project did not sink in until committee members visited the hangar for the first time.

  “We were dumbfounded at the sheer number and physical size of the decorations that were offered to us,” Stamiris recalled. �h display was larger than life and the whole kit and caboodle required special arrangements to move.”

  Gordon Food Service, Weiss Equipment and Star of the West Milling Company provided licensed drivers, fork lifts, semi-trucks and enclosed trailers to make the move at no charge to the city.

  With four major moves from one town to another, each delivery required volunteers to load and unload more than 100 displays, along with thousands of pieces of armature and electrical supplies.

  In Midland, Gordan Food Services employees joined more than 40 students from the Greater Michigan Construction Academy to load the trucks.

 Back in Frankenmuth, the trucks were unloaded by Frankenmuth football team players, Schaefer & Bierlein employees and other community members. Overall, over 150 volunteer hours were used for the big move.

  All of the displays are of quality construction, manufactured by one of Bronner’s own vendors. A 2017 appraisal has them valued at over $500,000, many of them are animated, with some sort of movement allowing for the illusion of dancing, playing and skiing.

  The CBC was tasked with prioritizing significant locations for three displays:

  • A beautiful Nativity is located on property owned by the St. Lorenz Lutheran Church, at the corner of Junction and Dehmel roads.
  • Dancing and musical gnomes are placed at the corner of Flint and West Jefferson streets.
  • A 25-foot tall nutcracker is on guard at the corner of Weiss and East Jefferson streets.

 With a major financial gift, the Frankenmuth Credit Union sponsored a display of a waving Santa in his sleigh and nine reindeer, including Rudolph, displayed at their main branch at North Main Street and Koester Drive.

  If the landscape adjacent to the Uptown North Main project dries from the recent rains, another vignette called “The Alpine Village” will be installed. This display includes a chateau, skiers and an animated Skiing Santa on a very big hill.

  Frankenmuth Jellystone Park is also sponsoring 𠇌ountry Bear Jamboree” with some furry friends playing in a band on Weiss Street.

  Volunteers this year have re-lamped the targeted displays with more than 11,000 LED bulbs.

  “The LED bulbs were selected for their bright color as well as their energy savings. The LED bulbs use significantly less energy and have a longer life than traditional incandescent bulbs,” Stamiris pointed out.  

  “The committee was very aware that the new displays needed refreshing and wanted to be sensitive to long-term costs. LEDs save energy costs, decrease maintenance needs and last a long time,” added the city’s electrician, Jesse Robinson.

  Over 200 volunteers came from the Frankenmuth Noon Rotary Club, the Frankenmuth Lions Club, CBC board members, city employees and community residents and their children.

  Most of the donated items are still in city storage as the CBC will evaluate how to best roll out the rest of the displays.

  “It is still overwhelming to look at the number of vignettes we have on hand in the garage. Over the winter, we will identify locations for anything from animated ice skating barrel jumpers and leaping reindeer and snowflake arches to ducks, elk, a fox, a full cast from the Wizard of Oz and more in the coming years,” Stamiris said.

  While most of the labor was donated, the CBC used its rainy-day account to purchase the LED bulbs. Annually, the CBC maintains the Christmas decorations with donations received from many sources, including local residents and businesses. Scott’s Tree Service is the city’s contractor for installation and removal.

  “We could not keep Frankenmuth beautiful without the contributions of friends and family,” CBC Chairman Al Weiss said. 𠇏rankenmuth is a community that supports good things for the good of all. As we look to Thanksgiving and on behalf of the Beautification Committee, I share our gratitude for your support at Christmas and all year round.”


(c) 2006 Frankenmuth News