Aspen chamber board asks: Let there be (more) light?
ASPEN – Buildings wrapped like holiday gifts? Fireworks displays without the fireworks? Icicles that never melt yet still drip from all the downtown trees?
“This has that ‘wow’ factor,” said Kale Lacroux, of Basalt-based Lacroux Streeb Lighting Design. “It would create the full winter wonderland experience.”
Lacroux and local businessman Bill Dinsmoor presented potential holiday lighting schemes to the Aspen Chamber Resort Association board of directors Tuesday.
Dinsmoor said the Commercial Core and Lodging Commission, which was the driving force behind this winter’s holiday lights project, will ask the City Council for funds to expand the display next winter. He believes there is support for such an initiative.
A recent chamber survey showed most respondents “strongly liked” the holiday lights project, which included color-changing lights in the face of the clock tower near Wagner Park and falling “icicle” lights from the tops of trees near the South Mill Street restroom area of the downtown pedestrian mall. It also indicated that most respondents supported an expansion of the project, especially on the Mill Street and Hyman Avenue pedestrian malls.
What was not clear, however, is just how far the community – and town officials – would be willing to take the display.
Lacroux Streeb’s presentation included everything from more icicle lights to 3-D images projected onto buildings and landscapes to real-time video presentations and interactive displays.
Dinsmoor said such an intricate lighting scheme actually would become a tourist attraction in and of itself.
“This could be a game-changer,” he said. “We have the opportunity to have this be the driver for people coming here, regardless of snow conditions.”
The chamber board appeared intrigued by the idea but offered no formal endorsement. Rather, board members commented on what the discussion surrounding an expanded holiday lights project might look like.
“This would be a change in point of view, which we may or may not be ready for,” said former Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud, noting past city councils have been gun-shy of lights, fearing the “Vegas” look.
Added board member Stan Clauson: “This shows the schizophrenia in our community – the terms Disneyland and Vegas and Vail come up often as what we don’t want to be, but we want to be exciting. Disneyland and Vegas are exciting, so … “
Lacroux reiterated that any expansion of the lighting project would be “classic and timeless.”
And Dinsmoor acknowledged that before the project is expanded, the existing project must be refined.
“We need to create a cohesive look,” he said. “We have to look at this as an art installation using lights as the medium.”
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