SALISBURY — The downtown angels have returned.
Downtown Salisbury Inc. couldn’t afford last year to install the 39 eight-foot-tall wooden angels, which were hand painted by local artists and had been displayed every Christmas season since 2001.
Salisbury-Rowan Tourism came up with roughly $2,000 this year to pay for the installation. Sixteen angels are now displayed on new wooden frames that surround trees and lampposts on the Square.
About 20 other angels will be displayed in downtown store windows or in front of businesses.
The money for the project came from hotel room occupancy taxes.
“It adds to the holiday experience,” said James Meacham, the tourism group’s executive director.
The tourism group has invested $65,000 over two years on upgrading Christmas decorations in downtown Salisbury, including new wreaths, flags and lights.
Local contractor Randy Goodman built the wooden frames, which were designed by Steve Brown with Salisbury Parks and Recreation. Goodman installed the angels on the frames.
Meacham and Randy Hemann, executive director for Downtown Salisbury Inc., delivered the rest of the angels to downtown merchants who requested one. Merchants who wanted an angel but missed out this year will be first in line next year, Meacham said.
Tourism will publish a map with locations of all the angels.
After this holiday season, the wooden frames displaying the angels will be painted green to help them blend in, Meacham said.
St. John’s Lutheran Church also has some of the angels on display. An anonymous benefactor last year paid to install four angels at the church a few days before Christmas.
Downtown Salisbury Inc. owns the angels. The heavenly host add to the festive display downtown, said Mark Lewis, Downtown Salisbury Inc. president.
“We are very proud of our downtown and our city, and we want the decorations that we put out to reflect that,” Lewis said. “Many people in the community missed the angels where they were not there.”
With the angels’ return, the downtown decorations are nearly complete. Goodman also won the contract to install lights in the median on West Innes Street, which will match the East Innes Street median.
Electrical work is almost done to light up the trees along East Innes as well.
It appeared earlier this year that Goodman, who has hung Salisbury’s Christmas decorations for 25 years, would not be involved this season because he missed a bid deadline.
But as it turns out, Tourism hired Goodman for three projects — hanging the star on the Square, installing the angels and installing the median lights.
Contact Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.