If you hear the sound of “Jingle Bells” or “White Christmas” emanating from light poles around the Square in Athens this holiday season, you aren't losing your mind.
The Christmas music will be broadcast from a new speaker system, installed Oct. 4 by Limestone County's engineering and maintenance departments. The $20,000 system represents a partnership between the Limestone County Commission and the city of Athens, which kicked in $5,000 each. State Sen. Tim Melson provided $10,000 in TVA-in-lieu-of-tax funds.
Melson said Limestone County Commission Chairman Mark Yarbrough asked for a contribution. The senator said he was surprised Athens didn't already have a downtown speaker system.
He explained the system will help enhance the Christmas season downtown but could be used for any outdoor event.
“To me, the Square really is Athens; it's the focal point,” he said. “This will be good for playing Christmas carols or patriotic music on the Fourth of July or making announcements at the Grease Festival. (The project) just seemed to make good sense.”
The music will play year-round, courtesy of a feed from Pandora. Michelle Williams, community relations director for Limestone County, said the music is muted now because of the annual Storytelling Festival on the Square.
Not only can the speaker system play music, but it also has a wireless microphone capability. The system had a trial run during the recent Judge Horton statue dedication.
“It can project around the Square or we can set it to broadcast to specific zones. That day, it was set for the west side of the (Limestone County) Courthouse,” she said. “It worked beautifully.”
The music will return after the end of the Storytelling Festival. Christmas music will begin Nov. 18 to coincide with the Greater Limestone Chamber of Commerce's annual Christmas Open House.