Holiday lights bring ‘the joy and magic’ of the season to downtown Cedar Rapids

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Holiday decorations in downtown Cedar Rapids. Lights were turned on in November 2020. — photo taken by Benjamin Stuben Farrar but provided to Little Village by Brian Glick

Co-founder and artistic director of Revival Theatre Company Brian Glick is combining nostalgia with the glitz of Chicago and New York City for this year’s holiday decorations in downtown Cedar Rapids.

This is Glick’s second year decorating downtown. He described it as “quite the undertaking at times” but added that because he’s been able to build relationships it’s allowed for a “smooth process.”

“I want families and friends to experience the joy and magic of the holidays in downtown Cedar Rapids,” Glick told Little Village via Facebook. “The future is bright, and it sparkles downtown.”

Holiday decorations in Greene Square Park in Cedar Rapids. Lights were turned on in November 2020. — photo taken by Benjamin Stuben Farrar but provided to Little Village by Brian Glick

Decoration planning started in September and installing decorations began in October, Glick said. It took more than two and a half months to complete everything, including decorating more than 100 trees and flower planters plus installing additional decor.

Decoration plans this year were impacted by the Aug. 10 derecho, Glick said. There were plans for decorating the 100-year-old trees in Greene Square Park, but the trees were destroyed during the storm.

“For years, there’s been talk about lighting up those old trees, and we had planned that going into this season,” Glick said. “Luckily there’s a few [trees] still standing and we were able to get them lit up.”

Glick said it requires work from more than half-a-dozen companies and six different city departments to display the Christmas decor. Bladeworks installs all the lights on the trees and Blooms installs the planters.

Lights are turned on around the week of Thanksgiving. The work continues through the holiday season as crews check and maintain the decorations and lights every night.

Holiday tree at Greene Square Park in Cedar Rapids, 2020. — photo taken by Benjamin Stuben Farrar but provided to Little Village by Brian Glick

Glick said he drew his inspiration from larger cities, including New York and Chicago, and combined it with Cedar Rapids’ memorable displays, such as the fresh evergreen that line the streets and lights of the Armstrong building.

“Like in any major city, there are areas you remember during the holidays, like a special tree or a window display,” Glick said. “We are trying to do the same here.”

With the decorations, Glick wanted to “highlight the past” while adding “a fresh new look to how our downtown looks today.” It was also important to decorate places that may have been forgotten previous years, he felt. Glick said enjoyed tackling new areas that families could enjoy seeing decorated for the first time.

His favorite piece this year is the Tree of Five Seasons sculpture that overlooks the Cedar River.

“I’ve dressed those trees in blue as symbols for the river and for peace,” Glick said. “When the snow covers the ground, it illuminates the blue lights and you can see it from the interstate. It’s beautiful.”

The holiday lights display in downtown Cedar Rapids can be seen nightly through Friday, Jan. 1.

The trees with blue lights were decorated that way to represent the Cedar river and peace. — photo taken by Benjamin Stuben Farrar but provided to Little Village by Brian Glick

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