Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Pete Beach passing up holiday lights

ST. PETE BEACH — No, Ebenezer Scrooge does not live in St. Pete Beach.

But some residents could easily think so because the city's traditional holiday street light displays are missing this year, while most other beach towns are greeting the season with the festive twinkle and glow.

"I am so sad there are no decorations. I really would like to see a little holiday spirit," says Toni Burcham, who moved to the city several years ago. "Everybody else has decorations. It's not fair, it's just not right."

She said she did not realize that during budget deliberations last summer the city eliminated the $30,000 needed to rent holiday street lights.

"They have the nerve to say they can't afford to have decorations when they are spending over $300,000 for legal bills. With all the money the city's lawyer is making, how about him putting in some money for decorations?" she suggested.

A survey of other cities in south Pinellas County reveals that although most do have holiday street lights, some don't.

Indian Shores decided not to put up lights this year because officials weren't sure their project to install utility lines underground would be completed in time. The town is planning to erect a banner celebrating the season, however.

Tiny Belleair Shore doesn't have holiday street lights either — but that's because they don't have a street. Gulf Boulevard, which is on the gulffront town's eastern boundary, belongs to Belleair Beach, which decided to forego $7,000 in holiday lights this year in favor of much less expensive banners.

But all other beach cities put up holiday lights, despite similarly tight budgets.

Madeira Beach spent the most: $22,000.

Indian Rocks Beach spent the least for its holiday lighting — nothing. They own their own lights and didn't buy any new ones this year, according to City Manager Chuck Coward.

Treasure Island, a city of about 7,500 people, spent $16,000, while Redington Beach's 1,500 residents spent $10,900 for their lights.

Tuesday, under pressure from residents and the City Commission, St. Pete Beach City Manager Mike Bonfield said the city would consider paying for some holiday street decorations out of about $450,000 in extra revenues found in a recent audit.

It was too late to rent lights, so Steve Hallock, the city's public service director, ordered 90 holiday-themed flags and plans to hang them from light poles on Gulf Boulevard and Blind Pass Road.

It cost $1,800.

"It will be nice with flags," Bonfield said.

On a "brighter" note — city employees, who also saw normal pay increases canceled last summer, will get a holiday bonus this year: $250 for full-time employees and $125 for year-round, part-time employees.

St. Pete Beach passing up holiday lights 12/05/09 [Last modified: Friday, December 4, 2009 5:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Car bomb kills 13, injures 24 in Baghdad; Islamic State claims responsibility


    BAGHDAD — A car bomb exploded outside a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad just after midnight today, killing 13 people and wounding 24, hospital and police officials said.

  2. Leaping shark floors angler in Australia


    In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway's protagonist battles for three days to pull in his prized catch. For Terry Selwood, it came a little more suddenly.

    A 9-foot shark lies on the deck of a fishing boat at Evans Head, Australia on Sunday. Fisherman Terry Selwood said he was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the shark struck him with a fin as it landed on him on the deck. [Lance Fountain via AP]
  3. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  4. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber


    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  5. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant


    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]