Time has taken a toll on a New Ulm holiday tradition.

Since 1933, the city has strung garland from one downtown building to another across its main drag, lighting it up in colorful holiday lights. But this year will be the last for the high-rise display.

The 24 rows of garland that once were strung across Minnesota Street have since dwindled to seven because of concerns about building integrity and liability.

After one strand of garland caught fire two years ago, New Ulm began to rethink its garland tradition, said Michael Looft, president of the New Ulm Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Clearly, we don’t want our historic buildings burning,” Looft said.

Looking at old photographs, city officials and residents are considering returning to a time when the city hung garland across building facades rather than across the main drag.

Next year’s holiday decor also could include lights on the 3-foot potted pine trees that dot downtown corners along with mock Christmas presents placed at the base of streetlights, Looft said.

“People point to New Ulm for charm and tradition,” he said.

“The garland was a great tradition, but we can do better.”

Mary Lynn Smith


Local airport wins grant for new runway

The federal government has awarded a $2.1 million grant to the Little Falls/Morrison County Airport-Lindbergh Field to construct a new runway.

The airport opened in May 1947 as the Little Falls Municipal Airport. In 1964, the city and Morrison County signed a joint powers agreement and changed its name to the Little Falls/Morrison County Airport. A newer terminal building was erected in 1996.

The airport has two runways: a 4,000-foot lighted asphalt runway and a 2,800-foot turf runway.

Little Falls is the only Minnesota city to receive one of this year’s supplemental appropriation grants through the U.S. Secretary of Transportation’s Airport Improvement Program.

American aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh attended high school in Little Falls and graduated from the school in 1918. He made history and won worldwide fame nine years later by becoming the first aviator to fly nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean.

Piloting the Spirit of St. Louis, a custom built, single-engine monoplane, Lindbergh completed the 3,600-mile flight from New York to Paris in 33 ½ hours.