The city bills itself as the Christmas Capital of Texas and Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center presents a fantastic Lone Star Christmas ice exhibit every holiday season.
Both rely heavily on tourism.
So it’s as natural a pairing as cookies and milk for Santa that the two are collaborating on seasonal decorations.
At a City Council meeting earlier this year, council members unanimously agreed to authorize the sole source purchase of decorations this year from the resort and convention center.
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Their decision followed a presentation by Kevin Mitchell, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. His colorful offerings included towering toy soldiers and lots of massive decorative balls — some LED — which Mitchell said are a real people-pleaser.
Per agreement, Gaylord is refurbishing some older resort items, such as adding custom finishes, as well as adding new custom pieces. The city’s bill is $31,349, which includes a $19,749 three-dimensional, 12X9-foot Christmas Capital of Texas sign. Cost of the used items was approximately 10 cents on the dollar, such as $175 apiece for re-purposed toy soldiers that would cost approximately $2,750 new.
“You tally all this up, we’re paying roughly $11,000 and some change for almost $97,000 worth of Christmas decorations that are local, that are redone, repainted in the colors we choose that go with the color you’ve approved and there’s no shipping or handling, so you could add another 20 percent on that just to ship them here [if bought out of state],” Mitchell said at the June 3 council meeting.
Councilwoman Sharron Spencer liked the idea.
“We have a lot of needs, and I think we’re fortunate that we have a corporate citizen that’s willing to make this kind of a deal for us, because it is quite inexpensive for what we’re getting,” Spencer said. “Ten cents on the dollar is not a bad deal.”
Councilwoman Darlene Freed agreed.
“We’ve had a goal for several years to improve and really expand the Christmas appearance of downtown into other areas,” Freed said. “And it just seems to me that being able to get some really nice quality decorations for 10 cents, it looks like almost 10 cents on the dollar, that’s pretty great. I think it’s pretty great.”
Mitchell said many of the ornament balls will be placed along gateway entrances into town. Other decorations will be featured downtown along Main Street.
Councilman Chris Coy also supported the Gaylord plan, saying that the one thing that “struck” him was the opportunity to fill in a lot of the gaps along the corridors.
“I think to have an opportunity like this, where we’re getting a pretty good deal, I don’t think there’s any shortage of places to put this, as long as it’s consistent with the [city’s] theme,” Coy said. “And I think this is a good opportunity to start filling in the gaps that we know exist.”
Tony Steele, parks manager with the Parks and Recreation Department, said they are already lighting trees, but installation of big items will begin Nov. 1.
Steele, who has been with the department for 10 years, said he has watched the city’s seasonal display grow tremendously over the years. When he started, much of the holiday decorations were stored in a 10X20-foot shed.
“Now we’re in a huge storage building,” Steele said. “It has changed a thousandfold.”
On Thursday, Gaylord staff — or “hidden elves” as Gaylord spokeswoman Martha Neibling calls them — were putting some finishing touches on the Grapevine goodies in their 44,000-square-foot construction warehouse in Coppell. The showcase is a massive, 3D entry sign that will welcome people into downtown at Dallas and Main streets.
“I love it,” Chris Gonzalez, Gaylord production and design manager, said of the work underway. “It’s stress, but it’s good stress. When it’s done, it’s a beautiful feeling.”
By “it,” Gonzalez means the thousands of decorations being designed not only for the city of Grapevine, but for the Gaylord’s Grapevine location and two of its other resorts — the Gaylord Palms in Orlando and the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville.
The Gaylord Texan will feature two million twinkling holiday lights, 15,000 festive ornaments, two million pounds of hand-carved ice, 5,600 feet of Garland, 25-foot-tall toy soldiers and a 25-foot tall Santa Claus. There will be 150 festive Christmas trees — one honoring Grapevine and its nod to the wine industry, complete with ornaments made by hand from wine corks.
This year’s Lone Star Christmas, which runs from Nov. 13-Jan. 3, is featuring the annual ICE! extravaganza with a Frosty the Snowman theme.
“We’re using more than 2,000 pounds of glitter,” Gonzalez said. “That’s a lot of glitter.”