Christmas in the Pines committee members are planning to add to their display this year and have asked county officials for help with the power bill

Christmas passed more than 100 days ago.

Yuletide carols and visions of sugar plums have given way to the chirping birds and blooming flowers of early spring.

The holiday, for now, rests on the backburner – well, for most people anyway.

For Stanley Flynn and other Christmas in the Pines committee members, the holiday might as well have started anew on Dec. 26.

This past holiday season, more than 4,000 local residents witnessed the unveiling of Christmas in the Pines, a new drive-through holiday light display staged on the Crook County Fairgrounds. The attraction, which featured multiple lighted trees and other structures, lasted nearly a month, and exceeded the expectations of even those closest to the project.

“We knew it would be good,” Flynn said, “but I don’t think any of us knew it would be as good as it was.” By February, barely a month after the display concluded, the committee reconvened to work on its encore. Their plan: bigger, brighter, and better. Such ambitions will require some financial and volunteer help.

Of the expenses tied to the display, electricity costs trump the rest. After racking up a $1,200 bill this past December, they are anticipating a $1,500 power expense if all of their new upgrades come to fruition. The committee has therefore turned to the Crook County Court to see if they could pay the electrical costs.

Committee representatives pitched the idea during a recent county court meeting. The commissioners chose not to commit any funds until after they have begun their upcoming budget process.

“We will look through it and we’ll see,” said Commissioner Ken Fahlgren. “There may be some monies from our lottery funds or something that is more discretional. When it comes to tax dollars, we need to pay for ground level items.”

While they don’t yet know where the money would come from, all of the commissioners seemed willing to find a way to provide some funds for the display.

“We are going to try to do something, certainly, because it benefits the entire community,” said county judge Mike McCabe. “The first display was great. It was beyond anything I thought they would be able to come up with.”

Around the same time as the county court meeting, committee members learned that they would receive a community action grant from Facebook totaling $5,000. The grant will help pay for new upgrades to the attraction including an ice-skating rink, bazaars, community crafters, and local vendors.

“We haven’t decided for sure, but we are thinking about ice skating and we would like to partner up with Crook County Parks and Recreation to do that,” Flynn said. “And, we are actually planning a 5K though the light display.”

This year, Flynn said the committee has set its sights on at least 5,000 visitors and hopes to attract people from neighboring communities such as Redmond. At the same time, he wants the display to remain a local, rather than regional, event.

“We do want to invite other communities in, but we are about Prineville, and that is what I want to focus on,” he said. “My personal plan, and a few of the others, is see how grand we can make this for our community.”

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