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No Grinch in Dayton, and no decorations—this year

December 22, 2018

The Grinch didn’t steal Christmas. It might look like it for those residents who are accustomed to driving through the downtown area of Dayton and seeing traditional decorations on the poles, but they’re noticeably missing.

The Dayton Community Center was decorated and ready for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting and Nutcracker Market in early December, but for some residents, it’s not the same without the lighted downtown area.

Only a few of the pole decorations can be found, and those could be seen lining South Cleveland Street heading toward the community center. But where are the decorations for the downtown area that make the town so festive?

“With the transition of staff in public works, we were trying to get the decorations up,” said City Manager Theo Melancon, but the decorations were missing.

Melancon asked new public works director Roy Rodriguez to do a search of all the city’s facilities to see if they could find the remainder of the decorations.

“At the time, [in early December], we were just trying to get the Spirit of Christmas decorations up and then work on the rest of the decorations the following week,” Melancon said.

No more decorations could be found.

Some thought that maybe they were stolen, hidden, or misplaced.

But as it turns out, there was really nothing sinister behind the decorations caper.

“It wasn’t a conscious decision by anyone to not put them up,” the city manager said, “we just couldn’t find them.”

There’s a lot of institutional knowledge that was lost in the transition of former employees with new ones and Melancon said they were already a week behind when they realized that no one knew to even look for them and put them up.

“We found some, but if you only have enough for two poles, it would look really awkward,” he said.

Melancon said they didn’t even know where to look.

Rodriguez searched every city-owned building and found nothing.

“We’ve put up what we have, but we’ve discovered that a lot of them have been thrown away,” he said.

Employees and members of the community came forward to tell him that a lot of the decorations were in disrepair and falling apart last year and they were discarded.

“Some of those decorations were decades old,” said Caroline Wadzeck recently at a city council meeting.

Melancon said after they had discovered that so many of them had been discarded, he promised he would bring a package to council after the first of the year to replace them.

“Some of those were the old-fashioned kind of lights that really needed to be replaced and so the new stuff that we’ll get will make the community proud,” he said.

So, no Grinch. Nothing sinister. Christmas goes on and truly lives in the hearts of the community. But next year…

dtaylor@hcnonline.com

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