MARYSVILLE — For a quarter-century, children have sat on their parents’ shoulders and looked into the night sky as the Marysville water tower lights up to kick off the holiday season.
This year the town’s landmark won’t be illuminated.
Instead, during the Merrysville for the Holidays celebration Saturday, the city will light an 18-foot Christmas tree and other decorations in Comeford Park. Damage on the water tower has made it too dangerous for workers to set up the lights.
It would cost an estimated $175,000 to repair the tower, according to the city.
No decisions have been made yet for the future of the water tower, city spokesperson Connie Mennie said. It eventually would be up to the Marysville City Council.
Lights are still hanging from previous years, but city staff would need to check for bulbs that have burned out and other needed maintenance. Usually, that would be done by the Marysville Fire District, Mennie said.
It would be unsafe because of a corroded walkway and other problems.
“We know people love the water tower and love lighting it at Christmas, so it was a sad decision,” Mennie said. “But we can’t put crews at risk.”
Merrysville for the Holidays has become a tradition in Marysville where families are invited to Comeford Park to hear live music, visit with Santa Claus, watch the parade and see the lights.
Mayor Jon Nehring plans to light the tree this year. For years he has switched on the water tower lights, which were placed to make the tank look like a drum.
Nehring raised his three children in the city and each year would take them to the festivities.
“It is something I’ve always enjoyed, and our family has always enjoyed,” he said.
Mary Kirkland owns Hilton Pharmacy near Comeford Park and has lived in Marysville all her life.
Her great-grandfather became the owner of the pharmacy in downtown Marysville 100 years ago. Kirkland started to work there in 1969, and bought the business in 1984.
She’s been involved with the celebration each year and usually is on a parade float with other downtown business owners. She enjoys being in the park on what is typically a cold, clear night.
She has memories of people huddling around a big bonfire as music played and crowds gathered to see the lights.
“It was just very charming,” she said. “It was very hometown, Norman Rockwell-esque.”
Drivers passing by Marysville on I-5 usually can see the water tower when the lights are on at night. Kirkland will miss that this year, but she’s glad everyone is safe and is looking forward to the tree lighting.
“It won’t be quite the same, but it will be the same spirit,” she said.
Steve Edin moved to the city in 1978 when he was 13 years old. He’s been a member of the Marysville Historical Society for almost 30 years, and now works as the Marysville Fire District’s human resources manager.
The tower was built in the 1920s and hasn’t held water since the 1970s. In the beginning there were two towers — the other was where the Marysville Town Center mall is today. It was torn down in the mid-1980s to make way for that development, Edin said.
This isn’t the first time the historic water tower has needed care.
In 2000, it received some upgrades such as a new roof and a fresh coat of paint. The historical society donated $50,000 to the $200,000 bill. Edin was one of the organizers at that time.
He remembers attending the very first Merrysville for the Holidays celebration a few years before that.
“I’m an alumni of the water tower lighting,” he said. “I even have one of the original Merrysville for the Holidays sweatshirts that were very limited edition.”
He dug it out of storage this year for Thanksgiving, and plans to wear it again Saturday.
If you go
Merrysville for the Holidays begins at 5 p.m. Saturday in Comeford Park, 514 Delta Ave. Entry is free. There will be family activities, vendors and holiday music, until the parade begins at 6:30 p.m. along State Avenue.
This year’s grand marshal is Steve Smith, who has co-owned the Sunnyside Nursery for almost 30 years. He plans to retire soon and hand over the business to one of his sons.
Mayor Jon Nehring and Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive soon after to light the Christmas tree. Attendees may then take pictures with Santa in the Ken Baxter Community Center.