Significant funding will be invested in Athlone’s Christmas lighting this year which will also include permanent feature lighting infrastructure thanks to the work of a local community group, Athlone Chamber of Commerce and Athlone Municipal District.
Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser this week, Town Mayor, Frankie Keena, revealed that an investment of €200,000 in appropriate infrastructure such as lighting, log cabins, bunting and banners will not only enhance the town prior and during the festive period, but also some of the lights will remain in place all the year round.
“Post Christmas 2018, there was a lot of negative comment with regard to the Christmas lighting in the town and this was an issue which needed to be addressed, so in Spring of this year, various community organisations united to form the Athlone Festival and Events Project Group, the aim of which was to obtain funding to upgrade the festive illuminations and obtain relevant infrastructure which will have a positive impact on the town into the future,” Cllr. Keena commented.
An application to LEADER for funding proved successful with €150,000 received towards the cause, an allocation which has been gratefully received by the community group.
Athlone Chamber of Commerce is also actively contacting the local business community for up to €25,000 in financial support for this project, while Westmeath County Council have provided €25,000 from the local authority’s business fund.
“This Project Group has been working earnestly to acquire the necessary funding which will improve our town’s appearance not just over the Christmas period but all the year round on special occasions into the future.
“As the festive season draws closer, two major Christmas trees will be erected, one in the Civic Square and the other in St. Peter’s Square, with iced white lights a notable feature of our Christmas display. Additional attractive lights will take the form of wraparound and festoon illuminations in numerous locations throughout the town. Consistent in their design they will prove popular with locals and visitors to Athlone prior to and during the Christmas period,” the Town Mayor remarked.
Festive projections will adorn the Athlone Castle walls and the relevant projector infrastructure will remain in place to enable suitable imageryto be projected for notable occasions during the calendar year. In addition to this, the permanent lighting displays on some trees will include an option to change colours in keeping with various events, most notably, St. Patrick’s Day, which is an opportune occasion to promote the shade of green.
“Such permanent lighting will adorn a section of trees along Eliott Road between Luan Gallery and Athlone Boat Club, the use of which will reflect the time of year,” Cllr. Keena added.
Pertaining to matters festive, twelve hi-spec weather proofed timber cabins have also been purchased and are expected to be used by local businesses participating in the Christmas markets.
“The Athlone Christmas Market Group has yet to decide the duration of this year’s festive market, but the twelve cabins will be available for use to members of the local business community. When the Christmas season concludes, these cabins will be disassembled and stored securely in a steel container,” Cllr. Keena continued.
The Project Group which is chaired by Shay Hamilton has also received funding for bunting and large display flags for general use on festival occasions, all with the aim of promoting Athlone in a posiitve light.
“Inclusive of thanking LEADER I wish, in particular, to thank the local business community and Westmeath County Council for their contributions in this regard. It is vitally important to market the town in the best possible manner and without their support we would be unable to do so,” Cllr. Keena concluded.
The switching on of the Christmas lights will take place in the Civic Square, on Sunday, November 24, from 4-6pm, with family entertainment to the fore during this annual festive occasion.