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pounds 10 Christmas lights festival to pull in the tourists.

Byline: Phil REDMOND

ILLUMINATIONS. At the begin-ning of the year, I offered a pounds 5,000 prize for the best-lit house in Liv-erpool, if the council w ould take up the theme. They didn't, but I'm prepared to try again.

I originall y proposed that we should declare Liverpool the City of Christmas Lights, taking the lead from a road in Bootle , which really went to town last year. So much so that they decided to collectively illu-minate t heir entire s treet and ended up attracting tourists from across the North of England. On my way to Anfield, I often drive through West Derby and Nor-ris Green and it seems people there have been pushing t hings even fur-ther this year. In y our own areas, nodoubt you will have seen more and more neighbours getting t ogether to decorate their houses, as well as people putting on displays to raise money for charity. I saw a spectacular display of neighbour ly co-oper-ation in Wa llasey over the weekend,just as I saw probably the country's finest collection of illuminated San-tas in t he small Cheshire village of Utkinton. Like them or loathe them, it seems that many people get a real kick out of illuminating t heir houses. This passion to illuminate is not confined t o Liverpool, which is why I think we should seriously think about the idea of a Christmas Lights Festival. It would attract peo-ple. People who could then be coaxed into spending money in t he city. As I said last time, there is always some group trying t o establish any number of festivals in t he city, but many don't get anyw here becausethe interests are too narr ow, just as many ``top down'' driven initiatives don't really eng age the majority of people. However, illuminating houses seems to have developed from the bottom up. As a result, it obviously already has the enthusi-asm and eng agement of the majori-ty, so support for such a ventur e should be relatively easy to organ-ise. I also said that, for once , this could be an idea that would not deter people from travelling to a cold wind y nort hern city in w inter.

If that is the case, and Liverp ool doesn't want to take up the idea, then it would also work for Birken-head, presumably still looking fo r something t o attract shoppers away from Liverpool and Cheshire Oaks. Even if not seen initiall y as an economic r egeneration t ool, it is an expression of a collective interest, if not popular culture. The amount of time, effort and care that goes into some displays would be hard to match in many artistic fields. At the very least, the whole experience brightens up the lives of a great many people. That is worth applauding in its own right.

So, the prize remains the same. pounds 5,000 to be split between t he winner and their nominated ch arity. It may sound daft to some, but Blackpool must have started somewhere with its illuminations.
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Title Annotation:Comment
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 27, 2002
Words:515
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