Elkins residents and visitors need not worry about the Santa-hat-sporting, fire-breathing sea monster that's been spotted in town square. About a month ago, the sea monster took up residence in the city and has not only been confirmed as real, but, along with a host of friends, including Santa, Gingerbread men and women, are all lit up to spread holiday cheer.
The bright idea to bring these host of characters to town square belongs to Elaine Griesel, owner of Ceramics With Class. Two years ago, Griesel was visiting Oglebay's Winter Festival of Lights near Wheeling and wondered why Elkins couldn't offer something similar to the public and hopefully add to the economy with visitors to downtown.
To help her idea come to fruition, last January she began saving a percentage of her store's daily profits to put toward buying colorful LED light displays. During town square events, such as the Ramp Festival and Fourth of July Car Show, Griesel could be found selling snacks, including ramp wontons, hotdogs and nachos to further contribute to the light display she envisioned.
THE CHEERFUL GROUP — With the idea sparked by Elaine Griesel, various Downtown Merchants Association representatives gather around the Christmas tree in town square where lights — sponsored by the businesses — are on display throughout the holiday season. From left are Anne Beardslee with Artists at Work; Sue Pifer with Elkins Sewing Center; Ed Griesel with the Downtown Merchants’ Association; Karen Gardner, Kellie Rexrode and Tammy Brady with the Board of Realtors; Bill Brock with Mountain State Street Machines; Kris Wilmoth with Thompson’s Jewelers; Elaine Griesel with Ceramics with Class; and Sue Sheets and Harold Elbon with the Elkins Depot Welcome Center. (CU?and The Inter-Mountain/Alec Rader) © The Inter-Mountain, all rights reserved.
TOASTY FROSTY — This snowman warms up by the fire he built in town square as part of the light display sponsored by downtown businesses. (CU and The Inter-Mountain/Joe Blankenship) © The Inter-Mountain, all rights reserved.
HAPPY HOME — Sponsored by the Board of Realtors, this gingerbread couple has a festive yard and home in Elkins town square this holiday season. (CU and The Inter-Mountain/Joe Blankenship) © The Inter-Mountain, all rights reserved.
TEETERING TOTS — These two gingerbread kids will be teeter-totting all season long in town square thanks to Ceramics with Class. (CU and The Inter-Mountain/Joe Blankenship) © The Inter-Mountain, all rights reserved.
Word about Griesel's idea got around to Elkins businesses and organizations through the Downtown Merchant's Association. A town square filled with colorful characters piqued the interest of Thompson's Jewelers, the Elkins Sewing Center, the Randolph County Board of Realtors, the Elkins Depot Welcome Center and Mountain State Street Machines. Each business or organization sponsored a display that they chose - Christmas Done Bright, a family-owned Tennessee-based company.
Kris Wilmoth, owner of Thompson's Jewelers, sponsored carolers and an ice skater. Wilmoth said she thought Griesel's idea was great and wanted to contribute to the display that would bring the spirit of the season to town.
Although a gingerbread house wouldn't typically be purchased by clients whom the Randolph County Board of Realtors serves, but appropriately the house and gingerbread people outside its doors were sponsored by them.
Amy Schumacher, member of the Board of Realtors, says the display is a way to give back to the community. She, like Griesel, also hopes the display brings more visitors to downtown Elkins and its shops.
The display can be viewed by traveling around the recently completed roadway around town square.
Visitors to the display should enter the road from the south end of the depot and exit the one-way street beside the Railyard Restaurant.
For all her efforts, the Elkins Depot Welcome Center is honoring Griesel as an "Elkins Extraordinary Citizen."
Individuals, groups or businesses interested in sponsoring a light display for next year may call Griesel at 304-636-2903. She has a catalog merchants and individuals can browse and choose the perfect display that may even ironically represent them.
Copyright The Inter-Mountain, all rights reserved.