Salina Downtown came alive with the spirit of the season Saturday. The day began with a fun run and ended with the lighting of the four new overhead structures to begin the popular Parade of Lights. In between a Christmas Festival featured things like cookies with Mrs. Claus, pictures with Santa, antique fire truck sides, horse drawn carriage rides, and a live nativity.
A large crowd gathered late in afternoon to celebrate the completion of what many believe is a “generational project”, the downtown streetscape project.
Salina City Manager Mike Schrage, the entire Salina City Commission, along with representatives from Salina 2020, Salina Downtown Inc., the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce, and Smoky Hill Construction, LLC participated in a plaque dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony at Philips Plaza.
The $160 million dollar downtown project is the largest public-private partnership in the history of Salina. It began back in April of 2018. It included underground waterline replacement along Santa Fe. Other highlights of the project which have been finished include:
- Salina Fieldhouse
- KU School of Medicine and Nursing
- The Alley – bowling alley and family fun center
- Drive-thru recycling center
- Old Chicago restaurant
A downtown hotel project is progressing, as are several other projects including YaYa’s Euro Bistro and a Starbucks as part of the hotel project.
Salina Mayor Dr. Trent Davis told the crowd a project of this magnitude could not have been accomplished without a lot of cooperation and partnerships.
Salina City Commissioner Joe Hay said the project is an investment for the future of Salina.
Salina City Manager Mike Schrage told KSAL News the four overhead structures will become a Salina signature, in particular at night.
The overhead structures were lit with colored lights for the first time at 6 p.m. to coincide with the beginning of the Parade of Lights.