Dowagiac community members talk potential Christmas projects

Published 2:11 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2024

DOWAGIAC — Business owners and community members alike gathered at the Jim Snow Building Monday to discuss ways to enliven the Grand Old City during the holiday seasons.

A group of volunteers organized the meeting – attended by approximately 20 community members and business owners – to discuss the best ways to enhance Downtown Dowagiac’s Christmas decorations. The meeting, facilitated by Dowagiac resident and business owner Zena Burns, consisted of brainstorming sessions on how decorations would benefit the community and creative ideas for decorations downtown. A survey was also circulated to engage with those unable to attend the meeting.

“This is awesome,” said Bow Wow Bakery and Bath co-owner Angela Quail. “It’s the first time that we have had the time to sit down at a meeting and volunteer our time so we’re really looking forward to it.”

Many in attendance believed that enhanced decorations would bring traffic downtown and showcase community pride.

“I just found out this year that a family comes and takes a picture at my window every Christmas,” said Rosy Tomorrows owner Claudia Zebell. “I think if we do that kind of thing downtown, we’ll have more people doing this kind of thing.”

Among the ideas discussed included enhancing Depot Drive, decorations on key streets leading into downtown, Christmas tree sales, decoration contests and the installation of speakers downtown for Christmas music.

Attendees also talked about what it would take to make the ideas discussed a reality, with research, city processes, funding and timelines among the key points. City Manager Kevin Anderson was on hand to discuss the best ways to approach the city with a proposal and answered questions. The meeting concluded with the formation of a committee to drive the project forward and keep the community up-to-date. The group discussed creating a multi-year “master plan” and hopes to offer the first phase of that plan this winter.

“I think coming up with something realistic this year to show progress is important,” said Eileen Crouse.

“If you can show the progress you’ve made, that gets more people invested,” added Baker’s Rhapsody co-owner Jordan Anderson.

Quail believes the meeting was productive and hopes the project will incorporate the greater Dowagiac community as well.

“I think that’s going to be a key factor in getting the spirit up and community involvement,” Quail said. “Not just for Christmas but for the Dowagiac pride.”