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Downtown Red Deer always changes

The man behind the downtown Christmas lights always snaps a picture of City Hall Park to get a head start on the following year’s designs.

While Joe Pelz often jokes that he has no creative bones in his body, he has worked his magic on the City Hall Park and the downtown streets for the last 10 years.

In the summer months, the city staffer is the brains behind the glorious flower beds that boast 37,000 annuals plus scads of perennials at the park.

Come winter he leads the glorious transformation of the park and downtown streets into a winter wonderland.

“Every year I try to do the trees differently,” said Pelz, 50. “I try to keep adding every year to it. I am already planning for next year. Always mix it up. Try something different.”

Pelz said the same goes with the flowers in the summer time. Year after year there’s a new design. The planters boasted a centennial theme to mark the city’s 100th birthday in 2013.

“We always want people to go, ‘hey let’s go down and see what’s happening at City Hall Park,’” said Pelz.

Pelz said it started with a plan 10 years ago which has evolved over the years into the spectacular display. The traditional incandescent light bulbs are no longer part of the scheme after being replaced completely by light-emitting diode (LED) lights a few years ago.

There are 1,560 strings with 68,000 bulbs strung on the trees in the park. That does not include 15 festive pole decorations, the deer, the snowmen or the lighted rain barrels in the planters, Veteran’s Park or the nearby streets.

Every year Pelz shakes up the colour wheel aiming to make the display better than the previous years. Decorating the park is always at the back of his mind. He is constantly on the lookout for something that may spark inspiration and when it does he will jot down notes in his picture diary.

“I don’t want it to be stale,” he said. “I want people to come down. I want people to be excited. I wanted to do a lot more this year but we ended up with that snow. My goal is always to do more. More lights. More trees.” Pelz has worked in various jobs at the City of Red Deer for 30 years.

“I want to say I don’t have a creative bone in my body but I really can’t say that,” he laughed. “I have a passion for it. I just love it. I could talk about the park all day. I just love it. I love Christmas. I love the lights. To me it’s a season not a day.”

He said the park gives people who cannot decorate their homes a place to go during this festive time of year.

The lights were switched on in November and they will come down in early January.



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