Piece of Mind: Farmersville to Light 'em Up

Oct 19, 2020

The newly elected mayor of a Northeast Texas community isn't about to let a pandemic spoil his  Christmas spirit.

Bryon Wiebold was elected this past spring as Farmersville mayor and he is, shall we say, finding ways to cope with the “new normal.” Wiebold has talked the City Council into approving a “Farmersville Lights” event at the end of this tumultuous year. The city is going to light up during Christmas, along Farmersville Parkway from Texas 78 to Main Street. The city’s downtown square will becoming a festive site. Merchants will compete in a Christmas decoration competition. There will be horse-and-buggy rides.

Wiebold’s effort is to end the year on a high. How can it possibly end any worse than what many of us have experienced already?

Farmersville is not unlike many communities across the land in that it has had to cancel events left and right. The COVID crisis has taken a terrible toll on people’s emotions and Farmersville has felt it along with all sorts of cities and towns. I mean, the State of Fair of Texas was canceled in Dallas, and they played the Texas-Oklahoma football game before a sparse gathering of folks scattered throughout the cavernous Cotton Bowl; too bad, as well, because a lot of football fans missed a heck of a game.

Farmersville wants to put a smile on people’s faces and Wiebold, along with Main Street manager Kevin Casey, are crafting an event that the mayor hopes becomes an annual happening.

I have the pleasure of covering the Farmersville City Council for the Farmersville Times, a weekly newspaper that circulates in the Collin County community. I have been pleased to watch this event unfold in real time.

I have to say that Mayor Wiebold’s idea to collect corporate and community sponsorship to fund the Farmersville Lights project is as capital an idea as I can imagine, given the circumstance with which the city is dealing. It's astonishing to me, though, to hear pushback from soreheads who think the city shouldn't necessarily dress itself up in Christmas finery if only to put a smile on people's faces. Wiebold got some of that from one Farmersville naysayer the other evening. 

A local businesswoman said the city shouldn't spend money when it's in the middle of a pandemic. The argument, of course, misses the mark by a mile. The city is spending a pittance of budgeted money with the vast bulk of the expense coming from corporate and community sponsors who are lining up to join in the fund.

As Wiebold said after getting some resistance from the resident who objected to the city proceeding with this effort: “How can you argue against Christmas?” 

John Kanelis, former editorial page editor for the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise, is also a former blogger for Panhandle PBS in Amarillo. He is now retired, but still writing. Kanelis can be contacted via Twitter @jkanelis, on Facebook, or his blog, Kanelis' blog for KETR, "Piece of Mind," presents his views, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of KETR, its staff, or its members.

Kanelis lives in Princeton with his wife, Kathy.