It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – except in downtown Palo Alto. Yes, there are the little white lights on University Avenue that are there all year long, but I looked in vain for any other tree, ornament, twinkling new light or ribbon that would indicate that this is the holiday season – and nothing could be found. No Santa, no snowmen – not even a snowflake.
Some stores had their own lights hanging in their front windows, but the plaza in front of City Hall is empty and dark, Lytton Plaza is without a decoration, and there is not a wreath around.
I guess I am not surprised because we never have flags flying downtown – even on the Fourth of July. After 9/11 there was public demand that this city buy some flags but we were told all the American flags had been sold. We still haven’t any flags to fly on our main street.
For a town that thinks of itself as one of the nicest places to live, I am surprised more is not done to the downtown. At the very least it’s one way to attract shoppers, and the City Council has been proclaiming “Shop Palo Alto” for the last two years. Simply saying it is not enough.
When the downtown Business Improvement District was formed nearly three years ago, businesses were promised more tree lights and banners downtown. That obviously has not happened yet.
Back in the mid-1990s there were seasonal banners downtown, but they evidently wore out.
Other towns have decorations galore. Even some of the small rural towns manage to string colored lights across Main Street. And cities pride themselves on holiday displays. But not Palo Alto.