It’s Your Money: Funding holiday spirit

Funding holiday lights

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - North Myrtle Beach spent thousands of dollars on holiday decorations and events this season, but city officials said the cost is a small price to pay for the tourism it attracts.

The city paid nearly $4,000 for Christmas decorations on Main Street, according to the check registry. Various festive-shaped lights, wreathes and rope lights decorated street poles throughout North Myrtle Beach this season.

City spokesperson Pat Dowling said these decorations regularly need to be replaced, and money from the general fund and Accommodations Tax fund them.

Dowling said people expect the decorations and they also help the local economy.

“It helps merchants, it draws people to town,” he said. “People like lights and when they’re out shopping it makes them feel better and tourists like it.”

Decorations on Main Street aren’t the only expenditure the city paid this holiday season. The annual Christmas Cantata cost North Myrtle Beach nearly $7,000 this year. Church choirs from around the area put on the musical program each year with no cost to the public.

According to the city’s check registry, this cost is divided between 19 people and the Long Bay Symphony. According to Dowling, the cantata is also funded through the city’s general fund. Like the street decorations, he said the event is worth the price.

“It’s really cheap because it draws people in from all over the area, not just local residents,” Dowling said.

A few years ago, the city also added the Great Christmas Light Show.

“It fulfills the Christmas Spirit, everybody loves it. Whether or not you believe in Christmas or not, it’s a holiday thing and it also brings people to town to spend money and enjoy their holiday with us,” Dowling said of the show.

He added the price of the tickets funds the event but did not provide a budget for the show.

Dowling said the city has 15 to 20 holiday events throughout December.

In Myrtle Beach, spokesperson Mark Kruea said many of the decorations are donated for free from the Dickens Christmas Show.

Kruea said the city spent more than $12,000, plus 104 hours of labor, on its expenditures this holiday season.

Kruea provided the following breakdown of holiday-related expenditures:

· $225 – Neighborhood Services spent on decorations

· $1,133- Holiday-related decorations and programs from Recreation Services

· $6,700 – Paid to Public Works staff to install and remove decorations on Kings Highway

· Estimated total of 104 hours of labor and $90 in materials - Install the Christmas tree on the plaza, staff the Christmas Towne event, install a nine-foot-high menorah, set up/take down the portable stage for the Garden of Hope Tree Lighting and to set up/take down the 20-by-20 stage for the Mistletoe Market

· $4,430 – Electrical improvements at Nance Plaza, the boardwalk and along Broadway Street

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