According to many Birmingham residents, when you pay $30,000 for something, it should work.
That feeling is behind much of the frustration several residents have reported over Birmingham's new artificial Christmas tree in Shain Park after the tree has been dark several evenings this holiday season.
At the Dec. 3 Birmingham City Commission meeting, Department of Public Services Director Lauren Wood reported that her department had been dealing with periodic outages at the tree, though she stressed the problem was with the city's electrical grid — not the tree.
The main problem, Wood told commissioners, was the wet weather. The ensuing electrical glitches was causing the tree to flicker, she said.
This is the first year for the artificial tree, which was approved by the commission in late September. The $30,000 artificial tree from Christmas Lights, Etc. is similar to those used at Macy's stores and Six Flags theme parks.
The lights were officially switched on during Birmingham's official tree lighting ceremony on Nov. 21 and since then, the tree has stood at the center of many of Birmingham's annual holiday events, including the third annual Winter Markt Nov. 30-Dec. 2 and the Magic of Birmingham shopping event last weekend.
However, as early as late November, residents began complaining that the 15,000 LED lights were dark more often than they were twinkling.
"While I live right across the street from the park and would tend to notice this sort of thing, certainly I can't be the only person realizing that the $30K (tree) is not working properly," resident Paul Herber wrote to Patch last week, later sending in a picture of the tree partially lit on Dec. 8.
On the Birmingham Patch Facebook page, several residents reported that the tree was dark in early December, while others noted the tree isn't lit during the day while the rest of Shain Park is.
"Glad the city used our tax money to buy the shiny new plastic Christmas tree ... that doesn't work very well," Mary Kubitskey said.
City Commissioner Rackeline Hoff agreed.
"For $30,000, (the tree) is not supposed to flicker," she told Wood at the Dec. 3 city commission meeting.
Have you seen the Shain Park Christmas tree go dark this holiday season? Does it concern you?