ALBANY – The village of Albany’s annual tradition of holiday decorations has a new twist this year.
The previous decorations were given to the village by the city of Athens decades ago, said Mayor Tim Kirkendall. “They were old when we got them,” Kirkendall said.
Even so, Kirkendall said that some residents were so passionate about the decorations that in the past he had received phone calls if they were not up on time.
The frames were wrapped in green tinsel with red lanterns in the center; when Athens passed the decorations to Albany, the lanterns no longer worked. In recent years, the decorations have needed repairs before being displayed.
This year, however, the decorations have a new look thanks to a collaboration between the village, local businesses and Alexander High School.
The village government, with help from Alexander Local Schools students, started working in November on a project to restore the decorations.
“The big thing was getting enough money for supplies,” said Debbie Andrews, a member of the village council. “We have a very limited budget for a small village, so people stepped up. A lot of us made contributions towards [the project].”
Carpet One Floor & Moore and NAPA Auto Parts donated paint, and Lowe’s donated plywood and provided discounts for other supplies purchased with cash donations.
In Albany, coffee shop Threefold Roasters and Hocking Valley Bank contributed to the project. EJC Guitars, owned by village council member Elliot John-Conroy, also donated.
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Alexander High School students repurposed and repaired the old decorations in wood shop before passing them to art classes for further work.
“We started off by cutting the wood up and then taking it down to the art room to paint,” said junior Jared Truax. “Then we had the frames. [We] had to take off the old decorations they had on them and put more new paint on them.”
Wood shop teacher Nathan Schaller guided students in cutting out the wood centerpieces and painting frames.
“It’s nice to give [students] the latitude to come up with different things and different designs, and then seeing it come back from the art [classes] was cool too,” said Schaller.
He said the village wanted the students to have creative freedom, so the students were part of decision-making from designs to paint colors.
“Some of the students have been in here two or three periods a day working on it, as opposed to just when they’re in here normally, and they’ve been busy with it,” said Schaller.
Kristopher Coen Jr., a senior, worked on cutting out designs as well as painting the frames.
“Hopefully [the decorations] will last another year and then [the village can] have some other younger classmen do them two years from now,” Coen said.
“I think the kids were really excited about doing it,” said council member Andrews, who also personally donated to the project.“They got to initial [the decorations] and put their own artwork up and could say, ‘Look I did that one.’ I thought that was really good, they could take ownership of it.”
The restored decorations were first hung on Dec. 6 and are on display for residents and passersby to enjoy.
“I’m looking forward to seeing [the decorations] up for many years and hopefully we’ll be able to do a little bit more,” Andrews said.
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