Not so pretty in pink
Today, I take a stand for the lovelorn of Marion, the souls without a soulmate, the Lancelot without a Guinevere, the George without a Gracie, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
To the city of Marion, from one of those forsaken by love, and we are legion, I implore you — enough with the pink and red lights in the park for Valentine’s Day already!
The drive home from work each evening should be a joyous trek with a peaceful homecoming for us all. Driving the taunting gauntlet of glaring red and pink on Main Street, however, shatters the joy and sharpens the pangs that come when no one is home waiting with a kiss. The lovers’ holiday is more than enough to endure without having tax dollars used against me. It simply has to stop.
Was I melodramatic enough? Of course, all of that was, for the most part, tongue-in-cheek. I’m not a fan of the red and pink lights, to be sure, but in matters of love I’m not a total basket case yet.
The idea of switching the park lights from white to colored now and then is a good idea. I liked how the change at Christmas bridged the gap between downtown and the park, tied them together in a tastefully subdued way. While certainly some objected, I thought it added to the ambience of the season.
I liked the red, white, and blue configuration, too, though it left people guessing as to why they were that way. It turns out, I’ve been told, there wasn’t a particular reason, though it did happen to coincide with the law enforcement recognition day someone somewhere dreamed up.
Then came the pink and red. Classy gave way to kitschy. Charm gave way to gimmicky.
It caused me to look ahead on the calendar. St. Patrick’s Day? Nothing quite like green and white lights to make the park feel like an Irish pub. Halloween? The obvious color choices — orange, yellow, and white — would turn those historic, charming lampposts into candy corn hangers. And heaven forbid if anyone got the idea to use them to mark breast cancer awareness month — all pink, all month. I shudder at the thought.
A treasured aspect of living here, and an oft-used marketing chip, is the city’s charm. A good deal of that comes from our beautiful old Central Park, with the lampposts and classic white lights so thoughtfully and carefully preserved. The practice of using colored lights in place of whites should, above all, enhance the charm, not detract from it.
My suggestion, for what it’s worth, is to keep going with the Christmas colors, starting when the rest of the lights come on and continuing for the 12 days of Christmas. All three French hens, two turtledoves, and partridge in a pear tree of them. For the rest of the year, celebrate the holidays of Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Veterans Day by lighting the red, white, and blue configuration a week before the holiday, and switch back to the whites as soon as possible afterward.
Colored lights at those times can be displays of honor for days we collectively hold dear, and honorable traditions are integral parts of Marion’s true charm. When the lights are white, they speak to the storied history of this little town on the banks of the Luta — classic, enduring Americana that eschews the superficial for the substantial.
— david colburn
Last modified Feb. 19, 2015