■ By Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter
Every morning at my local coffee bar, the Christmas spirit fills the air these days. Folks seem to be deep in thought about shopping for gifts, green trees, and sparkly decorations. It gives me a fuzzy feeling, that is, until I drive down Florida Avenue. From one end of downtown to the other it looks like the Grinch came through town with a bulldozer and left nothing but bare store fronts, for the most part. A small tree in a window occasionally and a few lights, but only one thing even remotely says “Merry Christmas.”
That one thing is the tall Christmas tree at the southwest corner of Florida Avenue and Harvard Street that lights up like a beacon after dark. What has happened to our town? I can remember when that part of downtown was glittering with Christmas by this time of year. The commercial stores started somewhere back in late September – commercialism they call it. Where is our stalwart city council? Have they lost the holiday spirit?
When I first moved to Hemet more than thirty years ago, downtown took pride early on in December dressing up with Santa Claus. What happened? That block of Harvard Street, known as “The Harvard District” does not reflect the glorious Decembers of yore.
There’s blame to go around, I guess. If the city government thinks that a Saturday morning parade on the first day of the month sets a Christmas theme, then they have lost the spirit of Christmas and need to do better than that. Come on City Council and downtown business folks: climb up into your dusty attics and pull out those beautiful decorations and show us what you got. Brighten up your store fronts with lights of red, green and blue. Maybe a nativity scene would add to the ambiance. How about a picture of Santa in every window?
Most important, don’t let the Grinch take over the center of our city. Maybe loudspeakers with carols ringing out through the days and evenings would even help to make the season brighter downtown.
I know we can do this. How about it? Let’s be kids again?
Rusty Strait, Hemet