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Holiday Lighting - Ed Delmoro

by John Gessner Thisweek Newspapers
After a dozen years as Burnsville’s one-man committee to raise funds for holiday lighting in the Heart of the City, Ed Delmoro still greets each season like a child waiting to pounce on Christmas morning.
“Every year I’m like a little kid,”said Delmoro,76. “Every year I get excited again: ‘It’s time to get the lights going again.’”
Delmoro’s work will brighten the Heart of the City again beginning Nov. 24, the night before Thanksgiving, when tree lights and decorative snowflakes are switched on during an annual holiday lighting ceremony.
Between the snowflake sponsorships and contributions for tree lights, Delmoro said he raises about $37,000 as vice president of winter lighting for the nonprofit Burnsville Community Foundation.
“We’ve pretty much got the Heart of the City decked out,”said Delmoro,a Burnsville resident since 1982. “What I like is that it’s seen as a community thing. I have over 60 sponsors that are not in the Heart of the City — they’re businesses down on (County Road) 42 or elsewhere in the city, which tells me that it really is a city event.”
A retired vice president of sales for Soo Line Railroad, Delmoro was serving on Burnsville’s Heart of the City Steering Committee in 1998 when the holiday lighting program was born.

The citizen group secured donated lights from Target and decorated a large pine tree at the Nicollet Avenue entrance to Civic Center Park.
The following year Delmoro expanded his sights to the newly streetscaped Burnsville Parkway. At the time, there was still an empty gas station and an empty Kmart store on land in the Heart of the City that has since been redeveloped, Delmoro said.
“I wouldn’t say it was blighted, but it needed renewal,”he said. The Heart of the City committee arranged for Saturday-morning visits from the St. Paul Farmers Market beginning in 1999.

“That was the summer draw,”said Delmoro, who pictured holiday lighting program as the winter attraction.
In September 1999 Delmoro opened his Burnsville Chamber of Commerce directory and began cold-calling to raise funds for the lighting program.
“I thought, ‘You know what? I’ve been a salesman all my life. If they hang up on me or slam the door in my face, I’m used to that.’It was just the opposite.”
Delmoro raised enough money to light the trees along Burnsville Parkway from Aldrich Avenue to Nicollet Avenue.
In 2000 he began selling snowflakes to decorate the lightposts in the newly streetscaped Heart of the City. The lighted flakes are about 40 inches around. Attached to the blue “Burnsville”banners on the lightposts are smaller banners carrying the name of the post’s snowflake sponsor.
About 200 of the roughly 225 posts in the Heart of the City are sold, many to families, Delmoro said. Sponsors make a one-time contribution of $250.
“The snowflakes are sponsored for a three-year period,”Delmoro said. “We’re now on our fourth crankover of that program, which will take it through 2011. And that’s been good. People adopt their snowflake, and they become very possessive of it.”
At renewal time, many sponsors wouldn’t think of letting another sponsor take their adopted pole, Delmoro said. Sponsors get to pick their poles from the available supply.
“I can pretty well drive through the Heart of the City and call out names,”Delmoro said. “I know which pole belongs with which person.”
LED lights are now used for the holiday program, which drew kudos from Dakota Electric in its customer magazine.
“They say the new LED saves Burnsville 101,000 kilowatts each season, enough energy to operate 10 homes for a year , ”Delmoro s a i d .
He stressed that the Burnsville Community Foundation —not the city —pays all the costs of the lighting.
“We pay for the contractor, we pay for the electricity, we pay for any staff time that’s involved with the city —and there are still people that think it’s tax money, after 12 years,”Delmoro said.
He said the program has blessed him with ties to his community that go beyond his neighborhood and church. That was especially apparent when Delmoro’s wife, Linda, died in March 2005.
“When Linda died, I found out who the real beneficiary of this giving was,”he said. “There was such an outpouring from people that I connected with and met through asking for money. I was embraced by the community, and I thought, ‘Wow, the more you try to give, the more you get back.’”
For information about donating or sponsoring a snowflake, call Delmoro at (952) 890- 1770.

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