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Getting ready

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HELPFUL ELVES: Volunteers with Light Up! Peru pose during a Saturday work session that saw them start a light-replacement project for downtown Christmas decorations.
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SHINING BRIGHT:Kirsten Goshert and Bree Meeks pose with a newly refurbished wreath during a Saturday work session with Light Up! Peru. The group is raising money and putting in the work to update Christmas decorations for the downtown area.
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IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK ... :Leroy Burdine and Kirsten Goshert work together to replace lights on a downtown wreath. The group Light Up! Peru replaced over 1,000 lights during a Saturday work session.

BY JARED KEEVER - jkeever@perutribune.com

A group of dedicated organizers and volunteers have been hard at work behind the scenes making sure the downtown area gets a bit of a makeover this holiday season.

“The joy of Christmas is all around and the giving is amazing,” Sandy Chittum, president of the Miami County Chamber of Commerce told the Tribune on Monday. “The downtown is going to be so beautiful.” 

That’s thanks to a group called Light Up! Peru, members of which spent Saturday morning in the basement of the CRC office on Main Street refurbishing wreaths for the downtown light posts by giving them new bows and LED bulbs.

The idea for the group came from Paul Forman, who said the drive to do it is simple.

“Essentially, I love Christmas,” he said in a phone interview. “I’ve always loved Christmas.”

And earlier this year, he said he decided that there were likely plenty of other “like-minded” people in the community that he could motivate to get involved.

He had a few initial ideas for projects, he said, but eventually they settled on sprucing up what was already in place.

They started with four goals.

They wanted to put new bows on the downtown wreaths, change out the older lights to more efficient, professional-grade LED bulbs, light up the two trees on the courthouse lawn and spread ornaments all over the courthouse square.

Forman said he went out and got a few quotes for pulling off the projects and the initial estimates came in fairly high. But he then turned to Arnie’s Ace Hardware for sourcing a lot of the materials and walked away with a fundraising goal of around $3,000.

“I said, OK, that’s doable,” he recalled.

And it was. As the donations continued to come in, Forman said he realized he was going to have enough to put new lights in the garland that wraps the downtown light posts as well.

He said he is continuing to take donations and will be hosting additional “workshops” to make sure everything is ready in time for the Nov. 20 Downtown Peru Christmas Open House.

The fundraising, Forman said, is set up through the Northern Indiana Community Foundation, so donations are tax deductible. What doesn’t get spent this year, is going into a fund to start saving to make purchases in years to come and to replace worn and dated decorations.

“I want people to know … what we are doing will have a generational impact,” Forman said.

To donate or ask about helping contact Paul Forman at (765) 432-1052 or email lightupperu@yahoo.com. There is also a Light Up! Peru Facebook group.