Palmer businesses raising money for water tower lights

Community fundraiser will put more permanent lighting on the tower after windstorm damaged previous setup
Published: May. 20, 2022 at 8:55 PM AKDT
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - Right in the heart of downtown Palmer, the water tower is arguably the city’s most recognizable landmark. Back in 2016, a pair of businesses decided to turn the iconic staple of the town into a holiday tradition by lighting up the tower during the Christmas season. Kelly Turney of Alaska Picker and the owners of Bleeding Heart Brewery Stefan Marty and Zack Lanphier have been managing the lights for years.

“For years I guess people had asked but had always been told no, and then people just quit asking,” Turney said. “So I had a good relationship with Bill Engaldson, the owner of the tower, and just called him up and I’m like ‘Hey this is something we want to do, you know, together as a community’ and he’s like ‘OK.’”

For first few years the lighting was modest, with a few strands around the widow’s walk surrounding the base of the tank itself, and lighting on the finial atop the tank’s roof. As years went on, lighting the tower grew in popularity, and has since become a holiday tradition for the town marking the start of Colony Christmas. As the tradition grew, so did the number of lights on the tower.

Community fundraiser will put more permanent lighting on the tower after the January windstorm...
Community fundraiser will put more permanent lighting on the tower after the January windstorm damaged the previous setup.

But the wind event that marked the start of 2022 made the tower go dark shortly after it was lit, which is why the group of community members have started a GoFundMe to raise money for a more permanent solution.

“Not only is this like a passion project for us because we’ve been doing this since the beginning,” Marty said. “But we feel like right now Palmer specifically needs something to rally around, and to all support together.”

The funds raised would be used to professionally install outdoor diode lights on the tower. The lights would be installed in zones, allowing for different colored patterns that can be changed to celebrate multiple holidays and support local home teams.

“These lights are specific to outdoors, they’re LED, they’re programmable, you can change the colors and all that which is a big step from the Walmart lights we’ve had lasting this entire time,” Lanphier stated.

Greater Palmer Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ailis Vann said that the city fully supports the endeavor, and agrees that it could help unite residents and spread a little positivity.

“One of the things that people can do when they donate is look up at it when it’s lit up and be like ‘I did that. Like, I helped with that,’” Vann said.

The group is confident the community will meet the goal of the GoFundMe, and will use any excess funds raised toward future maintenance of the lighting setup. Businesses who wish to donate can do so by going through the Greater Palmer Chamber of Commerce, and Bleeding Heart Brewery is also accepting in-person donations at their establishment in downtown Palmer.

“We would rather have 25,000 people give a dollar than one person write a check,” Turney said. “Because really, then you get that buy-in from the community and that’s what we really want.”

The hope is to have the project completed in time for this year’s Colony Christmas celebration, which traditionally takes place on the second weekend in December.

Editor’s note: Alaska’s News Source makes no representations or warranties of any kind about the authenticity, accuracy, or reliability of any GoFundMe campaign. Any donations you make to such campaigns are strictly at your own risk. If you have any questions related to the authenticity, accuracy, or reliability of a GoFundMe campaign, please contact GoFundMe directly or consult the GoFundMe Guarantee Policy.

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