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Larned’s water tower light project in full swing
COURTESY PHOTO A drawing for this quilt made by Larned Alumnus Beckie Welch-James will be held during the Santa Fe Trail Days events in Larned with proceeds going to the Christmas Light Project fund.

LARNED — Since the Larned Water Tower lost its Christmas lights some years back, due to painting and restoring of the tank, the citizenry has not been happy. Alumni returning home for Christmas have missed the crown on the nostalgic Christmas tower. And ever since, there has been a move to restore the lights.

Earlier this month the Larned City Council recommended proceeding with lighting plans for the water tower to replicate the crown as in the past. The attitude has been, “We will have Christmas lights on the tower again,” and the word spread quickly.

It has been difficult to find businesses with the capability to take this project on; however, the Falk Architects in Topeka submitted a bid and the Council approved their handling of the project. The lighting consists of a new built-in LED fixture with a protective lens at the cost of $95,000.

Led by City Manager Brad Eilts and Mayor William Nusser, the city suggested the slogan, “Buy a Bulb” for a fundraising campaign. Rick Yeager and Jim Vratil volunteered to head the committee for the alumni fundraising effort. Many others are involved in this promotion.

“If we can get 250 people to buy one light at $400 apiece, we can raise the $100,000 that we will need for this project,” Nusser said. “Groups can buy a bulb together; friends can pool their money and buy a bulb ... there are many options to getting this done.” The campaign will conduct a fundraiser in May and June. At the July meeting, the Council will discuss the project, looking at how much has been raised, and have the time to get the Christmas lights finished and lit by the holidays.

The Larned Alumni Association is making a starting pledge of $4,600 to support the City of Larned Water Tower Lights restoration. The pledge was initiated through a large donation from Lu Ann’s lights from the Lu Ann Pankratz estate. 

During Santa Fe Trail Days events in Larned this weekend, the Larned Alumni Association will have a booth at the downtown location. At that time, the booth will be selling coupons for the drawing for a quilt: six coupons for $5 or $1 each to go to the fund for the lights.

The quilt was made by Larned Alumnus Beckie Welch-James. All proceeds going to the light fund. Supporters can also sign up to win a free All School Reunion T-shirt designed by two Larned Alumni, Michelle Nash-Koch and Joel J. Clark.

Donations can also be left at the City of Larned building, or with Rick Yeager, Jim Vratil or William Nusser.