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Winter decorations go up downtown

by HEIDI DESCH
Daily Inter Lake | November 22, 2020 10:20 AM

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Volunteers hang the winter decorations downtown Sunday morning. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

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Volunteers hang the winter decorations downtown Sunday morning. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

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Volunteers hang the winter decorations downtown Sunday morning. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

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Volunteers hang the winter decorations downtown Sunday morning. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

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Volunteers hang the winter decorations downtown Sunday morning. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

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Volunteers hang the winter decorations downtown Sunday morning. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

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Volunteers hang the winter decorations downtown Sunday morning. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

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Volunteers hang the winter decorations downtown Sunday morning. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

The iconic red bells and snowflakes hanging from lighted garland went up in downtown Whitefish Sunday morning.

Volunteers spent the morning hanging the winter decorations that have been a tradition in town since sometime in the 1950s. Each year volunteers spend weeks checking the roughly 10,000 bulbs in the decorations and preparing them to light up downtown.

The decorations include 24 snowflakes, 70 wreaths, four snowmen and 47 lighted garland strings.

The tradition began when John Austin, who was president of the Chamber of COmmerce, purchased the wire frames for 20 red bells for $1 a piece. He tasked John Thorson, who owned Flathead Upholstery, with putting new fabric on the wire frames.

Eventually the nonprofit Whitefish Shines took over the effort of maintaining and making sure the decorations decorate the town from late November through Presidents’ Day.

Hanging the lights has become a tradition of its own with volunteers of all ages showing up to assist in putting them up on the Sunday before Thanksgiving each year, no matter the weather.

The decoration effort is funded completely through community donations. Folks interested in supporting the project can mail donations to Whitefish Shines, P.O. Box 695, Whitefish, MT, 59937.

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