Port St. Lucie, Florida has made Christmas headlines for years as the city that cannot grow a Christmas tree. Over the past decade the city has attempted several times to plant a tree they could hang lights and decorations on every Christmas season, as tradition has dictated. But they can’t keep a Christmas tree alive. They finally gave up on the tree. This year, they are giving up on the lights and decorations, too.
The holidays will be a tad darker in Port St. Lucie this year after reluctant city council members late Monday decided to save $70,000 and forsake an age-old tradition of adorning major intersections, city buildings and a parade route with colorful lighted wreaths and toy soldiers.
Faced with a $1 million deficit in the road and bridge fund for the next budget year, council members said it is better to patch potholes and repair traffic signals than celebrate a holiday season that likely won’t be too joyful with state-mandated tax reform.
“There’s no way we can say Ã«yes’ to street decorations and Ã«no’ to vital services,” Councilwoman Michelle Berger said.
Councilman Christopher Cooper suggested residents step up their own home decorating to combat the darkness and “make the city glow.” “People want us to cut spending,” he said. “I don’t see anybody from the public saying they care one way or the other about lights.” Berger led the charge to cut decorations rented from a private vendor after City Manager Don Cooper advised officials to cut all displays or none to avoid claims of favoritism by certain neighborhoods.
Mayor Patricia Christensen said the decision could mean an end to the annual Festival of Lights and parade along Midport Road since there will be no lighted decorations there. She’s also wondering where money for a new Christmas tree will come from since the last eight planted in front of city hall have died, some for unexplainable reasons.
“How do you cancel display lights and still spend money on a tree or a festival of lights?” Christensen asked