The residents of McCook hold dear to their hearts, Santa Claus Lane, a Christmas tradition in McCook. Santa Claus Lane, located on the historic grassy islands of Norris Avenue during the Christmas season has, for many years, brought happiness to McCook and area residents who would drive to McCook just to see the site. As an example, Bob Sutter wrote in his "What about Bob" column in the York Times, a Nebraska Newspaper, "The obligatory drive by Santa Claus Lane on the way out of town completed the trip." This is a piece of happiness the club and community would like to preserve.
Santa Claus Lane was created by local businessmen and women, in 1966 and is composed of 32 wooden figures and/or painted signs. The original Santa Claus Lane display drew visitors from a wide are to see the lane illuminated, not by electricity, but by a luminous cloth. Of various colors which glows with jewel-like intensity when touched by automobile headlights. The paint used was the same paint used to make road markers and signs back in the day. The lane was held down by 100 lb. sand bags to protect it from weather. The lane depicts memories of the holiday season, one theme unfolding as you travel north, another as you travel south. One theme shows memories of a child's vision of Christmas, progressing thru the holiday season as Christmas Eve fast approaches from sitting on Santa's lap to the children's delightful faces as they wake to find Santa has left toys and gifts on Christmas morning. Heading the other direction, the true meaning of Christmas is shown through the nativity story.
After years of weathered wear and tear, the lane is in need of a face lift. The Rotary Club of McCook would like be the community's first service organization to move the process of restoration forward and feels the importance of putting service above self to preserve a piece of history which could be lost if we don't act now. The story promotes peace and well-being, not only in the community but also for the visitors who come to our community from surrounding areas. We would like to assist the community with the preservation of Santa Claus Lane, making it 'great', like it used to be, to attract visitors, who will in turn shop in McCook, bringing economic growth to local businesses. We want to bring back a piece of history to the town, which will hopefully be shared to the younger generation by those who remember it well.
The restoration is a multi-phase process:
Phase one begins with the fundraising process. The club will partner with the McCook Chamber of Commerce to fundraising for the project using social media, marketing in newspapers and radio, and donation boxes.
Phase two begins with the McCook Rotary club donating their time and painting skills to repaint and repair the signs which just need a face-lift. We will partner with the McCook Art Guild who has offered space in their building for painting and repair of the signs, as well as volunteer time and talents. Painting will be accomplished with outdoor paint costing $32.99 a gallon. Once painted, the signs will be treated/sprayed with glass beads like used by Dept. of Roads, costing $29.50 per 50 lbs. Cost of repair to the signs will depend upon the magnitude of the repair needed. The signs beyond repair will cost approximately $850 to recreate using updated weatherization and long lasting material.
Phase three will begin as the McCook Rotary Club marketing our efforts to restore the lane in hope of gaining momentum and gathering other volunteer organizations to complete the project, sooner rather than later.
Phase four which will be completed with funds from outside fundraising efforts, plans to capture the memories of the historic lane and place them for all to see on the McCook Chamber of Commerce website, allowing those who are not familiar with the history see what makes McCook special, daring them to come experience it themselves first-hand, and hopefully purchase something along the way and want to return again next year. Plans are also on the way to utilize technology to allow patrons to hear the history of Santa Claus Lane through their car speakers as they drive through the lane.
With this grant of $1,250, ($1,000 of district funds and $250 of McCook Rotary Club funds), we will aid in the purchase of donation box materials, paint/luminous glass beads, marketing, and other materials such as brushes, containers, and cleaning materials to aid in the process of restoration of the signs for Santa Claus Lane as listed above. We will also be donating our time and talents to accomplish this project.