No funding leaves Christmas Light Show Extravaganza in jeopardy
MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Main Street Christmas Light Show Extravaganza may not happen this year. The organizer is asking Macon-Bibb County Commissioners for money to operate.
Bryan Nichols and his family started Main Street Christmas Light Show Extravaganza two years ago. Between grants, sponsors and thousands out of his own pocket, Nichols has helped make downtown become a winter wonderland.
“I’m asked a lot if we’re going to have them this year and to be honest with ya’, I don’t 100-percent know yet,” Nichols said.
Three years ago, he came up with a plan to bring in more tourism to Macon.
“I’ve seen some other cities with Christmas lights and they’re beautiful, but how can we go to the next level?” Nichols asked.
He took his love for Macon and vision for downtown, to create a Christmas light show synced with music.
Nichols said more than 100,000 people visited the light show. That number doubled during last year’s show.
As the event grows, so does Macon’s economy.
“Restaurants have tripled and quadrupled since before Christmas lights were started,” Nichols said.
The grant money is gone. He’s asking commissioners to consider the Christmas Light Show Extravaganza while they make the fiscal year 2020 budget. He needs $200,000 to operate.
“It’s easy to say there are others out there who are willing to ante up $200,000 in order to do something with this, but the reality is I don’t think that there’s anybody out there,” Macon-Bibb Commissioner Larry “Rabbi” Schlesinger said.
Every two years Nichols says he receives $100,000 in sponsorships, but that goes towards expanding lights on other blocks.
Commissioner Joe Allen thinks there maybe someone to sponsor the entire $200,000.
“As many people as we know around this table, we can’t go get them to do this? Help this organization for one year and then maybe in the future [they] can’t stand on their own then we might be able to find a way to help them, but I mean I agree he needs some help,” Allen said.
Christmas is six months away, but Nichols starts designing in the summer and hanging lights in October.
Commissioners will meet Thursday to decide if there’s room in the budget for the lights, or if Nichols will need to get $200,000 from sponsors.
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