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Hickory Street Square closed to traffic for holiday activities


On Tuesday evening the city council urged community development director Megan McGown to make sure that there are enough holiday events scheduled to take place at Hickory Street Square to ensure that closing off the block is worthwhile.

McGown came before the council to ask for the closure of the square to traffic for Christmas events from Nov. 22 through the end of December.

McGown is the community development director as well as the main street director for the Historic Downtown Sidney program. Most of the businesses in the area wrote a letter in support of the closure.

Councilman Roger Gallaway wondered if McGown had any activities planned for the square during this period.

“We have the kick-off lined up for November 30 this year,” McGown said. “So we do have activities lined up for that particular night.”

McGown, in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce has started putting in requests from area groups for additional activities and events at the square. Ideally, these would take place every Saturday leading up to Christmas.

“It is a combined effort between the Historic Downtown Sidney program and the chamber,” McGown said. “We’re working together on the kick-off and together we’ve both kind of been trying to contact some different people.”

Many of the council members agreed that they’d like to see more activity going on in the square during the holiday season.

“It just seems that if we’re gonna go through the effort of closing that, we need to make better use of that time during that period,” Gallaway said.

The city’s Christmas tree will be set up in the square, as well as additional Christmas decorations and a music and light show, which will be ongoing.

Gallway wondered if any of the businesses in the area had committed to being open during activities. He was disappointed that only one store was open during festivities last year.

The kick-off event was moved to small business Saturday at 5 p.m. this year, meaning that the businesses will be open at least up to the start of the event, McGown said. She couldn’t confirm if any of the businesses would commit to staying open after hours during the events.

“I would hope if we’re doing this as an effort to promote the downtown area that we have good participation from the downtown businesses,” Gallaway said.

McGown assured the council that the businesses have all been involved in the planning up to this point and that she had not heard any complaints.

“I think, any group that wants to do anything, what a great opportunity,” McGown said. “The street’s gonna be closed, it’s a great opportunity for them to showcase their organization.”

Councilman Mark Nienhueser wondered who would bear the expense of the decorations and street closure. The decorations were already purchased or donated, McGown said. City manager Gary Person confirmed that the city would pay for closure of the square, but the cost was very small.

“If this is really, truly what the group wants to do and we’re only hosting one event, it doesn’t seem worth the squeeze,” Nienhueser said.

Person informed the council that the tree and decorations created a nice setting.

“Families gather in that area all throughout the season,” Person said. “It’s a kind of neat atmosphere, especially if you’ve got a little bit of snow, you’ve got a lot of lights and figures. I heard nothing but positives from it last year.”

Council members agreed that they liked the idea of closing the square but wanted to see more events in the area.

“There are any number of ideas that I feel we didn’t capitalize on last year to make it worth the trouble,” Gallway said.

Nienhueser wanted to make sure that there was a good planning and marketing effort for any events planned as well.

McGown assured the council that the Main Street Program and the chamber would work together to make activities at the square a success this year. The council voted unanimously in favor of closing the square.

“I agree that there’s a ton of groups out there that we could have, it’s just getting them to commit as well,” McGown said.

Interested groups can contact McGown at the city offices to book the square.


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