Historic District dresses up for the holidays

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Like any pretty lady, Savannah didn't just wake up looking like this.

"We've probably got two weeks in it," City of Savannah Maintenance Crew Chief Jonathan Watson said of the efforts to decorate downtown for the holidays. "And probably a total of 160 man hours, maybe 200 man hours."

The Historic District has been getting its holiday face ready for about two weeks, a shining, decorated glow that further brightens an already beautiful downtown with lights across Broughton Street, bows on lamp posts and decorations in several squares.

And it takes some work to make the city look like a holiday play land.

"This process is huge," said Bridget Lidy, director of tourism and ambassadorship for the city. "It takes the coordination of up to seven different departments of the city of Savannah, over about 30 employees working on it."

"We start at 4 a.m. and we stay from 4 a.m. until the traffic kicks us out," added Watson. "We try to get as much as we can. But we usually work about eight hours at a time."

While a schedule is mapped to install the decorations, flexibility is required to work around weather and not inconvenience people living and working downtown.

"Early in the morning is normally when we do the decorating over the streets in order to ensure that we're not disrupting traffic or business activities in the downtown," said Lidy, whose office oversees the project. "There's several different departments within the city that work on this, the Citizens Office, Park and Tree, Traffic Engineering has been fantastic and the Police Department and the Tourism Management Department.''

The city partners with the Downtown Business Association to get holiday ready in time for Thanksgiving with a festive look that lasts through the holidays and beyond.

"The holiday lights over Broughton Street," said Lidy, "will be up through Valentine's Day."

And along with all the work involved in lighting up the city, comes great satisfaction.

"We get a little break from the normal day to day routine, so it's kind of exciting," says Watson. "We get a lot of comments from the people who are just passing by or tourists saying how nice everything looks."

"People when you see them walking down the street, it's just a totally different expression that they have, their facial expressions and the way they walk, they're just so joyful that it looks so good for the holiday season," added Lidy. "When we were out on the streets at four in the morning and the bucket trucks were coming through, there was a great pride within the city folks that were there and they were all very proud of the work being done."

Copyright 2015 WTOC. All rights reserved.