Chamber of Commerce to bring back ‘Christmas on Main Street’

Fruitland Chamber of Commerce chairman Annie Knudsen reviews plans for the 2021 ‘Christmas on Main Street’ event with the Fruitland City Council, during its regular meeting Monday. Knudsen said the event will mostly be like it was in 2019.

FRUITLAND — In 2020, not even Christmas celebrations were safe from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, though, the Fruitland Chamber of Commerce is bringing back its annual “Christmas on Main Street” event after canceling it last year.

Annie Knudsen, Chairman of the Board of Directors, presented the chamber’s plan for this year’s event during the Fruitland City Council’s regular meeting Monday night. According to her, chamber officials aim to arrange this year’s event largely as it was arranged two years ago.

Knudsen said that the Fruitland Lions Club plans to hold a peace candle lighting ceremony to start the event. This is to be followed by Santa Claus lighting the Christmas tree at Fruitland Community Park.

“Jerry [Campbell, Fire Chief]’s fire trucks will take him down to Rywest this year; He’ll be on the other end of the street, because it was pretty congested” where he was located in 2019.

Knudsen requested permission from the council to use the park this year for booth space. She added that no items would be made for sale, but instead the event would be free for local families to attend.

Also returning for this year is the stamping of passports provided to attendees. These passports can be turned in once fully stamped by participating businesses, for a chance to win a raffle prize.

“All of the downtown businesses will be on that passport,” said Knudsen. “We have talked to membership about expanding and how we would expand that is to offer off-Main Street businesses the opportunity to participate this year, where they haven’t had the opportunity to participate before.”

She also stated that the chamber would not seek to shut down Southwest Third Avenue for this event. The Fruitland Fire Department will once again provide fire truck rides along Southwest Third Avenue, ending at the Fruitland Fire Station.

Knudsen said she has asked downtown businesses to donate lights for Public Works employees to put up along Southwest Third Avenue.

Regarding such plans, Knudsen quoted Police Chief J.D. Huff as saying in a meeting between chamber and city officials prior to Monday night, “I should just get behind you guys, because you guys do a great job. And I should support you more.”

Huff confirmed this statement to the council. “That’s what I said; My intent is to ask the council to shut down the entire city,” he joked.

Councilor Ed Pierson moved to approve the proposal for Christmas on Main Street, seconded by Councilor Jeff Carpenter. The motion carried unanimously, 4-0.

Christmases yet to come

Knudsen said the chamber also intends to expand Christmas on Main Street in future, with the hope of incorporating a light festival in the park, similar to that which is set up at Caldwell’s Indian Creek Plaza annually.

Councilor President Kari Peterson suggested adding an ice skating rink over the park’s splash pad to its list of ideas for future years. Both the council and Knudsen agreed this wish list would take collaboration by both the chamber and city officials.

One obstacle to making such plans happen now, according to Public Works Director Jerry Campbell, is a lack of places to plug such lights in presently. Knudsen added she has been in contact with Fruitland Electric officials to address electrical needs for this and future events.

Trunk-or-Treat recap

Also during this meeting, Knudsen reviewed the turnout of the chamber’s Halloween Trunk-or-Treat event on Oct. 30. She said this event was “probably the most successful first event we’ve ever had. Ever.”

Although she did not have exact attendance totals, Knudsen estimated there were at least 2,000 people at the event including 1,500 children.

“It was pretty insane; The line actually went all the way around the post office and down the other side of the park, almost to city hall,” said Knudsen.

She told the council that the chamber plans to expand Trunk-or-Treat next year, as the space at the 2021 event felt “constrained.”

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