Marysville water tower goes dark for holiday celebration due to costly damage

MARYSVILLE, Wash. -- The city of Marysville is turning off the lights on a piece of history for its annual holiday celebration.

For the first time in almost 25 years, the Marysville water tower won’t have lights on it during the Merrysville for the Holidays event.

Connie Mennie, a spokesperson for the city, said local firefighters usually dress up the water tower with lights. But an engineering assessment conducted in November revealed the water tower is too dangerous for anyone to be on it.

“There’s fairly significant damage. The walkway around the tower has some rusted out places, and if you look up you can see at the bottom of the reservoir there’s also some rust. So, the concern was that it’s not safe to light the water tower this year,” said Mennie.

The assessment also estimates repairs on the water tower would cost about $175,000.

“That’s money the city did not plan to spend right now,” said Mennie.

The water tower, built in the 1920s, is considered a city landmark.

“It’s super charming. I mean it’s kind of a goofy thing to say we love our water tower, but lots of people say that here,” said Mennie.

“The tower has always been there. It’s been in the park, it’s just been kind of our community,” said Steve Edin, who attends the annual holiday festival.

To salvage the community tradition, the city plans to light an 18-foot tall tree and additional smaller trees for the celebration.

“We’ll keep it up here through the New Year, and after that it will find a permanent home in a Marysville park. So, it will be a tree that we can still have and enjoy,” said Mennie.

“Part of me does feel sad that it’s not going to be this focal point anymore. But at the same time, we’re going to move as a community,” said Edin.

Edin attended the first Merrysville for the Holidays. He still has the event’s very first commemorative sweatshirt and plans on wearing it for this year’s celebration.

“I decided, you know, I need to dig this thing out. Just for the good old times,” said Edin.

Though some people believe the celebration won't be the same, Edin said it's not about the old, rusted piece of history, but rather the people who cherish it.

“Whether it’s lighting a tower or lighting a tree or lighting a phone pole, we’re still going to be accomplishing that,” said Edin. “Just get to know each other because I think as a society we’ve become so compartmentalized that we need more events like this to bring us together.”

Merrysville for the Holidays takes place at 5 p.m. on Dec. 7, 2019 at Comeford Park. A tree lighting ceremony is planned after a parade that starts at 6:30 p.m. The event is free to the public.

The water tower has been empty since the 1970s. Mennie said after the holidays, city leaders and the Marysville City Council will begin brainstorming ideas about the future of the water tower.